A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Strong messages about how intelligence and research help problem-solving; the value of being honest with your parents; balancing instincts and trust; accepting responsibility; overcoming fears.
Positive Role Models
Sunshine's a smart, curious girl who's very sensitive and incredibly empathic toward others. Mom Kat is engaged, present, and hardworking. Friend Nolan is respectful, supportive, forgiving, and intellectually curious.
Violence & Scariness
Haunted house produces a number of high-suspense experiences that are graphically described/felt. A woman and daughter overhear violent splashing, screaming, and pleading in a locked bathroom, as if a child were being drowned. Woman cuts her wrist and bleeds, then cuts her daughter's finger. A woman slams a boy's head onto a sink, knocking him unconscious. A girl slashes a woman's leg with a knife, then burns her with fireworks. A few near-death experiences.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Light flirting among teenage boys and girls; descriptions of attraction to boys or stirrings of lust; a girl texts that a boy put his hand on her thigh; a girl laments never having been kissed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Paige McKenzie's The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a paranormal horror-fantasy, based on her popular Web series of the same name, about an adopted teen girl named Sunshine who learns to help good and bad spirits pass over. Raised by a single mother, Sunshine's an empathic, intellectually curious character who must come to grips with her purpose on earth and encounters a lot of creepiness along the way. Amid the complications of surviving in a new city, making friends, and turning 16, there's high suspense, graphic descriptions of injuries, bloodshed, and demonic possession, frank discussions of life and death, and discussions and descriptions of a 10-year-old girl being drowned. Best for very mature kids or teens with an appetite for horror and fantasy.
Is It Any Good?
THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL is a page-turner. The setting works its ominous magic, the plot moves quickly, and the horror elements possess a skilled cinematic flair befitting a good supernatural horror flick. What makes this a standout are the characters: a smart, curious, empathic female protagonist; her hardworking, sarcastic, loving single mom; and a handsome boyfriend who's respectful and impressed by Sunshine's brainpower, skills, and love of learning, researching, and figuring things out -- even when there's no good explanation for them.
There's some real fright here and lots of life and death hanging in the balance. But for teens with an appetite for horror stories, you couldn't do better than good kids with smarts, engaged parents and clever solutions to facing what it means to grow up and take on more responsibility.
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