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"A quick and appealing tale."-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, recommended review
Posted November 16, 2013
Posted May 20, 2013
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.
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Posted July 10, 2014
“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.
Posted April 10, 2014
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.
Posted June 26, 2013
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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.