Friday, April 8, 2016
So I picked this book up at the library simply because it had a sticker on the side that said "local author." Well of course I was going to pick it up to help support someone nearby! Now I can't wait to be able to buy a copy of this book and her other ones to add to my bookshelf to really support her, because I really enjoyed this one! Meet Jacqueline E. Smith!
The story follows 2 main people: Michael, who incidentally can see dead people, and his new neighbor Kate, who moves into the cursed apartment next door and brings along one mean looking ghost. So, I know it sounds kinda cliche, of course he can see dead people so of course she has to be haunted. But the story is more than that. For one, Michael does nothing about the fact that he sees the dead. To the point that he goes out of his way to ignore and act normal when in the presence of ghosts so that they won't follow him home expecting things from him. Of course this doesn't always work because sometimes they do follow him home and now everyone in his apartment building believes it is cursed and the landlord can never keep tenants in the one right next to Michael. So for a brief afternoon as Michael helps the pretty new girl and her brother move in, he is all smiles because, well, he can't help himself around pretty new girl. Until he sees the very angry, very scary looking ghost glaring down Kate's brother Gavin, and so he turns tail and runs back to his own apartment.
But Michael can't stay away from Kate, he is drawn to her, for reasons outside the usual she is pretty and new and single, but you don't get to know about those 'till much later. He finds himself drawn into multiple ghost-related scenarios that he has been trying to avoid his whole life, and tries his best to help to not only impress the pretty neighbor girl, but also because he has realized that up until this point he has been a little selfish by not helping. Things, of course, get out of hand and twisted around because nothing is ever simple or straight forward. There are a couple of heartbreaking moments where you just want to hug some characters but you can't, because they are fictional, and ghosts mostly. And there is plenty of humor to have you laughing.
I thought this book was a breath of fresh air. The characters are people I know. Michael is selfish, just wants to be normal. Kate is fanatical about a TV show about ghost hunters and so fangirls when she meets the lead actor. Gavin is the protective big brother who ignores his own failing health because he can't stress his sister out. They are normal people who make you laugh, drive you crazy, make you roll your eyes, and draw you to them all at once. The book being based in Texas really helps for me, too. I love it that no one bats an eye at it taking them an hour and half to drive somewhere and it getting far too late in the evening in the process, because that's just what happens when you live in this big state. And of course the parents of these almost thirty year olds are so involved in their children's lives, making decisions for them, giving advise, still trying to parent even though their kids are grown, because that is just how we are in the South. I loved being able to relate to these characters!
The only drawback I feel the need to point out is that it take a little while for the plot to thicken. We find out plenty about the characters, what has happened to them, that they like one another, and it seems like most of the book goes by before any conflict arises aside from the "boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy is too shy to ask girl out" bit. But it's necessary I think, after reading it. After all, the author is introducing you to this guy that she wants to follow for a few books. You need to have some background, some setting. Instead of cramming story, big events, the main plot into one book, this is the beginning. I think in book two will be more of the main climax of Michael's story, if the ending to this one is any indication. And there is still more than enough drama in this one to keep a reader satisfied with having read it and looking for more. Just, if you find it starting off a little slow, know that I did too, but if you keep going, I think it will really be worth the wait!
So pick this book up! Discover someone new with a lot of potential. And let me know what you think! Because I am headed to the library for the next one!