Absent

( 5 )

Overview

When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn't an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose—she can't bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to ...
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Absent

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Overview

When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn't an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose—she can't bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Paige Wheeler died five months ago at her high school, and her ghost has been stuck there ever since. She hangs out with two other ghosts: Brooke, who died of a cocaine overdose in the girls’ bathroom a few months before Paige died, and Evan, who won’t reveal how and when he died. Confined to school grounds, the three deceased teenagers follow the lives of the living until a student suggests that Paige’s fall off the school’s roof was suicide. Paige is determined to preserve her eternal reputation and quash the rumor, and she discovers that when a person thinks about her, she can inhabit his or her body. She uses this ability to settle some old scores, and in the process uncovers the truth behind Brooke’s death, as well as her own. While Williams’s debut, The Space Between Trees, also revolved around untimely demise, her sophomore novel confronts the subject with incisive dark humor. The mystery of Paige’s death is a bit slow to unfold, but her sharp, poignant narration will keep readers engaged and entertained. Ages 14–up. Agent: Judy Heiblum, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)
From the Publisher
"A suspenseful mystery that sneaks up on you." - Booklist Online

"A quick and appealing tale."-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, recommended review

Children's Literature - Rosa Roberts
What if you could never leave high school? This is what happens to Paige who is forever trapped at her high school after a deadly fall from the school rooftop. Was the fall an accident or suicide? This is the question one is left to ponder from the initial start of the story. Paige is not the only one inhabiting the halls of school—so are the ghosts of Brooke and Evan. Was their demise part accident or an intentional cry to end their existence? All three are trying to seek solace and end the speculation of those still living about what actually occurred to each of them. With the ability to possess living people, Paige tries to stop the rumors and set the record straight with those left behind. The truth will set all of them free and prevent them from being stuck in high school for the rest of their post-death existence. This book grapples with the afterlife, other worlds, rumors, and intimate thoughts of these three fictional teenagers. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts
VOYA - Cynthia Winfield
High school senior Paige Wheeler died falling off the building during a physics class and is now stuck forever in high school, along with two other students who died there. Paige, believing her death accidental and upset by rumors that she committed suicide, works to change that perception. Discovering that when a living student thinks of her, she can slip into that body and control actions and speech until leaving school grounds, Paige relentlessly inhabits students across the social spectrum; however, she cannot control the reactions afterward, and some refute claims she made while using their lips. Using the peer classifications she created with her best friend, Usha—biblicals, burners, well-rounders, testos—Paige narrates her pursuit of revised oral history and achieves appreciation for individuals beyond labels. What begins as a gaining-awareness-in-death story evolves into a multiple-murder mystery. Keenly observant Williams writes beautifully. At night in the library, Paige "can hear the books around [her] creaking in their shelves, rustling their pages, stretching their spines." Since those who die are stuck there forever, "the school is lousy with ghost frogs, chloroformed for dissection," and Williams's haunting description animates their ghosts. Paige's recommended advertisement for tissue boxes speaks to usefulness: "Good for the average break-up, fourteen sad movies, and the death of a small dog." A must-have for school and public libraries, this book is sure to engage readers and promote reflection; once discovered, readers may elevate this novel to cult status. Reviewer: Cynthia Winfield
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—After falling off the roof during an egg-drop experiment for science class, Paige finds herself relegated to haunting the halls of the high school from which she'll never graduate. The 17-year-old is not alone, though, and finds new friends in Brooke and Evan, who also died on school grounds. Together they watch the students and wish for the lives they could have had. As the school year continues, popular girl Kelsey starts a rumor that Paige jumped and committed suicide. Desperate to somehow prove Kelsey's words false, Paige shadows her every move, until she discovers that she can inhabit, and manipulate, others. From Kelsey to her best friend to her secret ex-boyfriend, Paige possesses her classmates, trying over and over to quash Kelsey's hateful rumor. She finds that her actions have larger consequences, though, and that perhaps she is not the only one who has been dabbling in the art of possession. Williams presents readers with an engrossing supernatural story that feels genuine. The ghosts' despondency and Paige's quest for revenge and yearning for acknowledgment will ring true with teens. Readers will be engrossed until the very end, when the students, both living and dead, finally find what they need to move on.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Three dead teens "[s]ettle in for the world's longest detention" in this melancholy ghost story. Paige Wheeler died at 17 when she fell off the roof of the school during a misguided science experiment. Now trapped on the school grounds as a ghost, Paige spends her time drifting the halls with Brooke and Evan, two other ethereal teens. Paige is troubled by the rumor that she jumped instead of fell, and when she discovers she can inhabit the body of anyone who is thinking about her, she tries to use the ability to clear her name. But many of the attempts backfire, especially when it comes to making her best friend Usha paint a memorial mural of her or getting her "secret" hookup Lucas to admit that he and Paige were together. Paige's regret that she accepted less than the very best for herself will be a sobering reminder to readers not to take opportunities and relationships for granted. "What if I hadn't wasted my time--myself--on a guy who was only around for kisses in the trees?" Mostly a moody meditation on adolescent afterlife, the story morphs into a thriller when Paige discovers a vicious secret about one of her fellow spirits, which leads to an unexpectedly transcendent and moving finale. A somber tale that will make teens think twice. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811871501
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 5/21/2013
  • Pages: 180
  • Sales rank: 361,848
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.37 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Katie Williams teaches writing at the Academy of Art University and is the author of the acclaimed The Space Between Trees. She lives in Berkeley, California.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    Inaportit

    I think this book is inaportit if I spelled it wrong sorry.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I admit, it was the cover that attracted me to this book. It's s

    I admit, it was the cover that attracted me to this book. It's so simplistic, yet gorgeous and I had to know more. Then, I found it was a ghost story and I was sucked right in. I had to have it! This was a very quick read and it had a bit of mystery to it. I loved discovering the outcome along with Paige, though some of it I was able to figure out before she does.

    Paige was a character that I really felt bad for. I mean, how could I not feel bad for a girl who died at school and is now stuck there. Talk about suckishness!! She isn't alone at least. She and Evan, another ghost trapped at school, get along pretty well. She gets along okay with Brook, but she prefers to spend her time wandering alone or with Evan. She is really upset that people think she committed suicide and wants more than anything for people to know that she didn't, especially her best friend Usha who is angry that she could do that. I could almost feel her desperation, but also thought she was selfish inhabiting people's bodies to try to stop the rumor. She is lost, broken, and upset. I loved who she became through the book though, and that she was able to grow up. Sadly, that can't bring her back.

    There was a whole bunch of other characters that I really enjoyed too. Evan, who was friendly and helpful, but kept his past to himself mostly. He really was a big part of the story, and I think that he was fantastic. Then Usha, who is still alive. She's hurt and angry at Paige, but she is a great person and was a wonderful friend. Then there is Harriet, who somehow can see the ghosts. The part she plays in the story is a major mystery solver. Probably my favorite was Wes. He is one of what Paige refers to as the "Burners" but she has him all wrong. He is really a sweet, artistic, real guy. He says what is on his mind, though it's not always interpreted the right way. He was so awesome and I couldn't get enough of him. I was glad that we got to know him well. There are so many other characters that play a big part in the overall story, but those are the most notable.

    I was so sucked in to this story. I thought that the plot was wonderful, the characters were amazing and well developed, and there was just enough emotion to really fully absorb me into the book. I was frantically turning pages the closer I got the then end. I needed to know if the things I suspected were correct. For such a short book, this was packed full and was very satisfying. It's also a stand alone, which is nice in a sea full of series. This was really a great book that I think anyone who likes ghost stories, or contemporaries would enjoy.

    *A copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2014

    ¿At least I fold up easily in my soft-skin-clothes¿old jeans and

    “At least I fold up easily in my soft-skin-clothes—old jeans and a velvety jacket from one of Usha’s vintage scrounges. She’s convinced me to like about used clothes what most people hate: the other bodies that have unstiffened their elbows and knees, stretched out their pockets, salted them with sweat, only to toss the clothes out at the precise moment when they are really ready to be worn.”




    I’ve noticed recently that a lot of negative reviews—including, but not limited to this book—consist of the reviewer stating how much they “didn’t like” the character/s. I would have to chuck a good portion of my collection out the window if that was something I considered important. I cannot grasp why people think they have to “like” a fictional character in order to enjoy or appreciate a good story. How limiting that must be! It is possible to hold two opposing ideas in your mind simultaneously. In this story, I didn’t necessarily like (or dislike) Paige, but I did enjoy her arc. I absolutely adored the Mr. Frisk/Evan storyline (surprise, surprise). What I appreciated about all the teen dialogue was that it was effortless and, most importantly, timeless; different generations can read this and not be put off by references they do not get. 




    There’s so much to appreciate about how Williams constructed this story—beyond the beautiful imagery and thoughtful phrasing. It may be fantastical in nature, but it’s drenched in realism. Nor is it dark for the sake of being dark or edgy—it embraces it; it gives it light. It doesn’t romanticize suicide, but it doesn’t turn into an after-school-special, either. A compelling and haunting read. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2014

    it kept my attention. A little weird but i thought it was pretty

    it kept my attention. A little weird but i thought it was pretty good. Different from what i sully read. i also agree with
    the response below, the cover is why i even looked at it in the first place. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Oh, my. I think I love this book. Teenage suicide or, really,


    Oh, my. I think I love this book.

    Teenage suicide or, really, the deaths of teenagers for any reason are very difficult to bear and creating a story around such a theme is probably as hard as it comes. Katie Williams has done it beautifully and with great compassion.

    It’s not uncommon to find people who believe a soul is tethered to the last place he or she was alive until something happens to release the soul so, when I read the description of this story, I wasn’t put off. I found myself intrigued at the idea of these “stuck” souls not only communicating with each other but also carrying on a life of sorts. I wanted to know why they hadn’t been able to move on and I wanted to know who they were.

    The three teens seem to accept what has happened to them and find ways to entertain themselves and to observe how life goes on without them. Paige is fairly content until she finds out that one of the popular girls is spreading rumors about her and she just can’t sit back and take that. It’s handy that she discovers an ability to take possession of a body, in a way, and then the game is on.

    Absent is a story full of heartaches, questions, and remorse and even though Paige, Brooke and Evan are dead, they didn’t hit a wall when they died. Instead, they continue to grow emotionally and we see the people they could have been in life, a great sadness in itself. Each has a personal story that’s so appealing and so sad and I came to like each of these kids a lot for very different reasons. Evan, in particular, tugged at the heartstrings with a vengeance, but some of the still-living characters also got my attention, especially Wes.

    Along with the stories of these three ghosts and their living friends and family, there is also a lot of mystery here, making the tale even more attractive to this mystery fan. I wanted very much to follow Paige as she discovered the truth about her own end but, as it turns out, there was even more to learn.

    Katie Williams is a writer I had not tried before and Absent was a wonderful introduction for me. I’ll be looking for her again and I suspect I’ll be re-reading this book, something I rarely do.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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