The Afterlife

( 42 )

Overview

A senior at East Fresno High School lives on as a ghost after his brutal murder in the restroom of a club where he had gone to dance.

A senior at East Fresno High School lives on as a ghost after his brutal murder in the restroom of a club where he had gone to dance.

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Overview

A senior at East Fresno High School lives on as a ghost after his brutal murder in the restroom of a club where he had gone to dance.

A senior at East Fresno High School lives on as a ghost after his brutal murder in the restroom of a club where he had gone to dance.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Soto writes with a touch as light as Chuy's ghost and with humor, wonderment, and generosity toward life."  —Kirkus Reviews
 
 
"Sweet and sarcastically funny."  —YM
Publishers Weekly
"Soto pens a sort of Lovely Bones for the young adult set, filled with hope and elegance," said PW. "The author counterbalances difficult ideas with moments of genuine tenderness as well as a provocative lesson about the importance of savoring every moment." Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Chuy's "life" after death experience comprises what he sees, hears, and feels for the first few days after he is stabbed three times and left to die in the restroom of the Club Estrella. He spends the next three days flitting from one scene to another—his parents house, the crime scene, hang out of the murderer, back to his home, over to his cousins, etc. He wants to tell them he is all right, but he is not really, having died before his life started. Chuy's mother wants his cousin to take revenge and Chuy watches his mother hand his cousin a knife. Chuy is not sure now he can stop it and eventually the cousin just gives the knife back. The murder remains a mystery—Chuy says, "Nice shoes" to the dude wearing yellow shoes and the next minute Chuy is dead. This was a reason to be killed? Perhaps it shows the senselessness of a brutal murder and a life wasted. Chuy meets another recently dead teenager who is remorseful for taking her own life, but the book does not dwell on the remorse. The pair now flit together to her house, the car where she committed suicide, back to her parents. Interesting concept, but hard to know the real substance of the book. 2003, Harcourt, Ages 14 to 18.
— Janet L. Rose
KLIATT
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2003: Chuy was looking forward to his last year of high school and especially to meeting Rachel, the girl from the back of his English class, at tonight's dance. However, he never expected to be on the sharp end of a knife wielded by a guy in yellow shoes in the club bathroom. Like a Latino The Lovely Bones, Chuy tells the story of life after death, of what happens as he drifts through East Fresno watching the world go on after his stabbing. He moves with the wind, occasionally catching a ride, and he visits his friends and family and even finds good old yellow shoes again. All the while, he questions his new state of being, sees just how much he can "touch" in the land of the living, and wonders what will happen as he slowly fades away. He is soon joined by Crystal, a girl who has committed suicide over a couple of boyfriends, and together they take one last trip to see the people they will leave forever as they disappear limb by limb. As they close the chapters of their lives, they decide to face what is to come, the afterlife, together. Soto uses a light touch and his usual humor in visiting "the place beyond," and readers can't help but like Chuy and cheer him on as he finally gets the girl. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Harcourt, 158p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
VOYA
In this story about a teenage boy's coming of age, Soto kills off his main character Chuy by page four. Yet his death is just the beginning as the rest of the book follows Chuy in the afterlife where he observes his friends, family, strangers, and even his murderer while in a ghostlike state. To pull off this horror conceit in a realistic teen novel, Soto creates a set of rules for the afterlife about how ghosts move, about how they can communicate with the living, and even about the span of afterlife. With his poetic training, Soto's evocative language creates a vivid vision of life after death filled with regret, guilt, and even humor. But it is not the big stuff that creates a page-turning read. It is the small scenes: Chuy worries that his mother will find his pack of never-to-be-used condoms; he offers a ghost-to-grave apology to his grandfather; and he observes the moment of silence held for him before a school basketball game. The message is that Chuy was just an average teen to whom no one paid much attention, the opposite of Crystal, a teen ghost girl with whom Chuy falls in love halfway through the book. Although the romance works, Crystal is not as fully developed as Chuy, and their back-story chance meeting years ago is one of the few misfires in the story. This great piece of young adult literature shows that realism is not necessary to explore the teen experience in an honest way. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Harcourt, 176p., $16. Ages 12 to 18.
—Patrick Jones
From The Critics
Chuy is a 17-year-old boy, born in Mexico and raised in Fresno, Calif.Although he is tragically murdered in the bathroom of a night club, his sudden death brings about many revelations about life, falling in love, and relationships. Average in looks and in life, Chuy narrates his short life and newly acquainted afterlife as he details his experiences, feelings, and what he learns as a ghost. The prequel to Soto's popular Buried Onions, which takes a look at events surrounding Chuy's death from the point of view of his cousin. Readers will enjoy Soto's The Afterlife, a creative and original journey of life and death as seen through the eyes of Chuy. 2003, Harcourt Children's Books, 168 pp. Ages young adult. Reviewer: Kim Morgan
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Soto's twist on the emerging subgenre of narratives in the vein of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) offers a compelling character in the person of 17-year-old Chuy, murdered in the men's room of a dance hall the evening he plans to connect with the girl of his heart's desire. Unfortunately for both Chuy and readers, what happens after death is that the teen's once engaged and engaging spirit seems to dissipate along with his "ghost body." He floats around Fresno, CA, making seemingly random sightings of his murderer, local kids, and-only after a couple of days and at a time when his ghost body is beginning to dissolve limb by limb-other ghosts. He finds a new heartthrob in the form of a teen who has committed suicide and is befriended by the wise ghost of a transient whose life he tried to save. Grieving friends and family unknowingly are visited by Chuy, and he is startled to discover that his mother wants violent revenge for his death. This plethora of plot lines wafts across and past the landscape of a narrative as lacking in developed form as Chuy finds himself becoming. After a strong start, The Afterlife seems to become a series of brief images that drift off as though in a dream. Soto's simple and poetic language, leavened with Mexican Spanish with such care to context that the appended glossary is scarcely needed, is clear, but Chuy's ultimate destiny isn't.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Chuy dies in the opening scene of this view from beyond; thereafter the story is told by his ghost, "invisible and touchable as light." Stabbed three times after commenting on a guy's yellow shoes in the restroom of Club Estrella, Chuy never gets to dance with his friend Rachel. Instead, "like a balloon in the wind," he floats around town observing the life he's left. He meets and falls in love with Crystal, who has committed suicide, helps a dead homeless man, flies in formation with some geese, and even takes in a Raiders game. Chuy realizes that he'll soon be heading for the afterlife but is grateful for the life he had. The ghosts offer no inside information on the big questions: Do we come back? Does heaven exist? How does the Almighty decide who lives and dies? Soto writes with a touch as light as Chuy's ghost and with humor, wonderment, and a generosity toward life. (Fiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152052201
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 84,133
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.98 (w) x 7.02 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Soto 's first book for young readers, Baseball in April and Other Stories, won the California Library Association's Beatty Award and was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. He has since published many novels, short stories, plays, and poetry collections for adults and young people. He lives in Berkeley, California. Visit his website at www.garysoto.com .

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Read an Excerpt

WHEN YOU'RE an ordinary-looking guy, even feo, you got to suck it up and do your best. You got to shower, smell clean, and brush your teeth until the gums hurt. You got to dress nice and be Señor GQ. You got to have a little something in your wallet. You got to think, I'll wow the chicas with talk so funny that they'll remember me. This was my lover-boy strategy as I stood in the restroom of Club Estrella combing my hair in the mirror over the sink. I was going to meet Rachel at the dance-Rachel, the girl in the back row in English, the one whose gum-snapping chatter made Mrs. Mitchell's brow furrow. I shook water from my comb and plucked the teeth like a harp. I brought the comb back into my hair again. I had to get it right.

It was from happiness, I guess, that I turned to the guy next to me. I said I liked his shoes. They were yellow and really strange to a dude like me who clopped about in imitation Nikes but on that night was wearing a pair of black shoes from Payless. I looked back at the mirror and noticed a telephone number carved with a key in the corner-265-3519. I let my mind play: I could call that number. I could say, "Your number's on the mirror, girlie." I pictured someone like Rachel answering and roaring a frosty, "So!" Then she would be cool, come on strong, and ask, "What's your name, tiger? What's your school? What kind of ride you got?"

Ride? I had a bicycle with a bent rim and a skateboard from junior high somewhere in the garage. But a ride? It was Payless shoes made of plastic. Shoes I was going to toss in the closet once the night was over.

But the private world inside my head disappeared quickly. The guy next to me, the one with the yellow shoes, worked an arm around my throat, snakelike, and with his free hand plunged a knife into my chest. He stuck me just left of my heart, right where I kept an unopened pack of Juicy Fruit gum-I had intended to sweeten my breath later when I got Rachel alone. I groaned, "No way," and touched that package of gum as I turned and staggered. He lunged and stuck me a second time, just above my belly button-blood the color of pomegranate juice spread across my shirt. I thought, This is not me, and leaned against a sink, grimacing because that one hurt. My legs buckled as I turned and straightened when he stuck me in my lower back. I cried, "How come?" I saw myself in the mirror, my breath on the glass, a vapor that would disappear. I breathed on the surface and saw, in the reflection, the guy stepping away and looking at the ground as if he had dropped a quarter. Then, chin out, he stepped toward me, pulled out the shirttail from the back of my pants, and wiped his blade.

"What did you say to me, cabrón?" he breathed in my ear. He smelled of a hamburger layered with onions.

My answer was on the glass. It was a blot of my breath, a blot of nothing. I couldn't form a word because of how much I hurt.

The guy in yellow shoes pushed me away. He put his penknife into his shirt pocket like it was a pen or pencil. He pulled a paper towel from the dispenser, and wiped his face as if his meanness could be stripped away. He coughed once. I could have used some of that air he was exhaling-I was starting to pant, worried because my lungs couldn't fill.

He inspected his hands and discovered freckles of blood on his knuckles. His thumb erased some of the freckles. He washed his hands in the basin and left the water running.

"You hurt me," I groaned, then collapsed to the floor, where I lay curled up, blood pouring evenly from three holes. When I swallowed, I tasted blood. Blood rolled over the lenses of my eyes. My body began to shudder, and I wanted to stop it, but how?

"So?" he hissed, and flicked the wadded-up paper towel at me. He pulled open the door, and the last I saw of him were his yellow shoes. I pillowed my head on my arm, moaned. The floor was cold and dirty, with tracks of shoe prints. It was the territory of mice and cockroaches, but I was neither. I closed my eyes. When I opened them a minute later, I was dead.

MY NAME IS Jesús, named after my father, whose own father was Maria Jesús, born in the 1940s in Jalisco, Mexico. But I was known as Chuy at East Fresno High. There was nothing really special about me-I ran cross-country, ate my lunch with friends, and with those same friends, all average looking like me, crowded around the fountain eyeing girls. It had been a good life until now.

As I rose out of my body, I realized that the pain was gone. But so was my last year in high school. So was the fall dance, my time with Rachel, who was not yet mi novia-my girl-but might have been if I could have brought her into my arms and convinced her that I was one marvelous thing. That evening I would have had every chance. After all, I had borrowed my uncle Richard's Honda, which was tricked-out and lowered like a cat, with ten-inch speakers in the panels and clear lights that cut a path on dark streets. My uncle, only seven years older than me, was a true guy-he had filled up the gas tank for me, vacuumed the floor mats, and run a rag over the dash. He had even replaced the air freshener, a tiny cardboard tree that swayed under the dash when later I took a sharp corner, tires chirping. The wind of those turns helped scent the air with pine.

When my friend Angel and I came to pick up his car, Uncle Richard tossed the keys at me and then put me in a headlock. "You dent my ride, and I'll kill you!" he threatened with a mean smile, and maybe meant it. But someone else had killed me first, the guy in yellow shoes, and I hadn't even driven more than ten miles in Uncle Richard's ride-the gas tank was still full.

This was a Friday night on what had been an ordinary October, and the first pumpkins were being set out on porches. Families, I suspected, were already buying five-pound bags of candies for the troops that would show up in a week. Leaves were falling, and the lawns were growing more damp every night. The chilly mornings put people in sweaters and coats.

But I was not going to be around for Halloween, the last year, I had vowed, that I would go trick-or-treating. Me and some friends had intended to put on masks and go door-to-door, croaking in our teenage voices, "Trick or treat." If the homeowners had ripped off our masks, they would have discovered boys that were really men. My good friend Jason, in fact, already had a beard.

But I wasn't going to be around. On that Friday night, I rose from my body and wavered like smoke and stared at myself crumpled on the floor. My wounds were gashes that resembled the gills of fish searching for air. They were still pulsating as blood seeped and flowed to the right corner of the restroom. The floor was red, sticky. I remembered a time I spilled strawberry Kool-Aid when I was little, maybe six, and trying to show mi papi that I was a big man-big enough to carry the pitcher to the kitchen table. But I spilled the Kool-Aid, and he spanked me because I did bad.

But what bad had I done now? I rose like a ghost. I gazed at my body, the pile that was my young skin and hard bones. My eyes were open, but they couldn't see me, for the light behind them was gone. My fingers were curled, as if I was ready for a fight. But there was no fight in me. I felt shame because I noticed the crotch of my pants was wet. Did that happen during the stabbing, or in death? It must have been after I died that my bladder released its water. I prayed that was how the body worked when you're brought down with a blade. I hated the thought that my father would pull back the sheet and look at me, his son with legs splayed and presenting a wet crotch for all to see. The shame of dying during one last piss.

A ghost with the weight of a zero, I rose still higher. My body was lean because I was seventeen, a long-distance runner for the school, and a Saturday weight lifter in my garage. I was also an occasional brick hauler for my dad, a mason for the city who sometimes got jobs on the side. I worked side by side with my dad, his only child, shouldering bags of cement from the pickup truck to backyards.

The ghost that was me hovered over my body and watched a guy come into the restroom rapping words to a song about a street killer. I'm sure he thought he was sweet, all suave, as he spun his own made-up rap song about death and drive-bys. But his off-key singing stopped. His mouth became an open sack when he saw me-my body, I mean-and saw that he had accidentally stepped in a puddle of my blood. He made a face at his shoes, black ones just like mine, and scraped them against the floor to rid them of bloody tracks that would follow him out of the restroom, tracks that would quickly grow faint with each step. He left the restroom in a hurry. He called the name Julio three times, each time a little louder, with greater urgency, as if he were the one stuck, not me. Who was Julio but a friend, a carnal, who tagged along with him that evening. Dudes, like chicas, never show up at dances alone; they go in pairs and return home in pairs unless one of them gets lucky. Like Angel and me. Angel was my friend on the dance floor, circling like a shark and resembling a shark-he had pointed teeth and hair that stood up like a fin. But he was a good dude, really, though more desperate than me to swing into the arms of a girl. And he was uglier than me, plus a little bit chubby around the middle.

I was waiting for Julio and the guy with my blood on the soles of his shoes to return. They'll come in, I thought, and help me to my feet, even if it meant getting blood on their shirts and ruining the evening for them. They'll call an ambulance-one of them had to have a cell phone. But before people rushed in to see about the noise, I saw my body quiver one more time. Dang, I thought. I'm going. I'm growing cold. I imagined the cold traveling up my throat to my face and pressing against my eyes. They would close, and I would really be dead.

Suddenly my ghost settled back in my body, and for a moment I felt myself breathe-my legs shuddered, then stilled, and I let out a hiss like the sound of a tire going flat. I had returned to life, and then died a second time.

I felt myself-the ghost, I mean-again slip from my bones and drift toward the ceiling. I thought: What's happening? I wanted to hang on to the sink or grip something to keep me at ground level. I wanted to remain next to my body, but I was light now that I had no body for an anchor. I floated toward the rack of fluorescent lights. I drifted through the ceiling, the pink of insulation, and the tarred shingles. I found myself on the roof, the air-conditioning unit of the nightclub roaring. I rose higher, and thought I was going to pee again when I drifted off the roof and hung in the air. I looked down and spied two dudes sparking up in the parking lot. They were leaning on Uncle Richard's Honda. I wanted to holler, "Get your dirty nalgas off the car!"

But I whispered to myself, "Man, I'm flying." I felt any second that I was going to drop like a sack of cement and burst open. But I flew and fought my instinct to flap my ghostly arms; after all, isn't that how birds stay in the air? I floated between the nightclub and a boarded-up insurance company, floated above the parked cars, and the dudes and chicas at the entrance, all of them trying to get in through double doors smeared with the fingerprints of hairspray, cologne, and adolescent sweat. I recognized my primo Eddie, a year older than me at eighteen, a high school dropout studying air-conditioning at City College. "Primo," I called, but he couldn't hear me. I looked up at the sky. The moon was nearly full and dented as a hubcap.

In the distance, the sirens of an ambulance and fire truck were wailing for me. Or, at least, for that body on the bloody floor of a dirty restroom.

THE GRAVITY OF my new status as a ghost began to sink in as I hovered above the roof. I was amazed by this transformation, and by how in my heart I didn't harbor hate for the dude who stuck me. It was weird. He had just taken my life, but I wasn't angry with him. In real life, people would just look at me and I would get mad. But where was my anger now? Maybe in death all that goes. And fear, too. I wasn't scared at all.

I watched the sky until the dark paled and the sun rose pink as a scar. By then the night wind that flaps laundry and trees had vanished. La chota-the police-had come and gone, along with the ambulance that carried my body to wherever the dead are bathed and tidied up before they are lowered into the ground. My uncle came and picked up his Honda, and I saw him hammer the steering wheel with his palm. He buried his face into the steering wheel, sobbing. He drove away, scattering the leaves that had gathered around his tires.

The cops returned, too. They went inside the club and half an hour later came out with the owner, an older man with watery eyes named Manuel Something-or-other. He appeared sad, and even sadder when he shook a cop's hand.

"I'm sorry," I heard the owner mumble.

The cops left, taking with them some testimony. But the testimony was with me, not the owner. I was the one killed. And I didn't feel even as bitter as aspirin. It was all weird.

My father and mother didn't show up, though I knew they were probably crying in the shadows of our house in southeast Fresno, homeland for Mexicans and Hmongs mostly. I pictured my parents. They were in the living room, the light of the television sparkling off their eyeglasses. I pictured my mother turning her head when the telephone rang and rising slowly from the couch with a groan, the crocheted afghan on her lap falling to the floor. She would mutter something about the stupid telephone ringing just as the program was getting good, and scold her viejo-her old man, my father-for not answering it. Her face would become a mess of lines, and her mouth would tighten into a bud, then loosen as the voice on the other end told her that I had been killed. I pictured her dropping the phone and bringing a knuckle to her mouth. Then my father, heavy as cement, having inhaled so much of it, would turn his camel-large head. He would rise from his recliner to pick up the telephone and scream over the noise of the television, "Cómo?"

Still, I was surprised they didn't come to at least circle the place where I had died. Everybody panicked when the cops first came. They had their nightsticks drawn and bullied their way into the dance hall. The police had shoved a couple of dudes against the wall, and arrested one wobbly-legged scarecrow when he couldn't manage to swallow a storm cloud of marijuana. The cloud floated from his mouth, and, high on mota, he had been pushed into a cruiser in the parking lot.

"This is a trip," I said to myself, and screamed it from the roof. People were passing below but they couldn't hear me. I screamed my name, and no one-not even a stray dog that was kicking down the street-could hear me. I was learning about my new self.

I could see the outline of myself, which was sort of like a figure penciled in and then erased on paper. I was vaguely visible to myself, but invisible to others-two workers on the roof on the next building were doing something to the gutters. I waved my arms, but they couldn't see me. They kept jamming a garden hose down one of the gutters as they started to blast away leaves and crap.

"It's a trip." I formed the words on my lips. "I'm a ghost."

My wounds were closed, my Juicy Fruit gum still in my shirt pocket. Then a horn blasted, and I jumped, scared, and drifted off the roof like a balloon, slowly descending to the street. I touched down on the sidewalk, amazed that there was nothing to it-just float off a building and land softly. Ever since I was a little dude out of my diapers, I had dreamed of flying, and I guess now that dream was coming true.

Plus, I was invisible. A man tripping down the street couldn't see me-he was shoving a twenty-dollar bill into his wallet. He walked past me and hissed playfully at a stray cat hugging the dried bushes of that closed-down insurance company. The cat was carrying something gray in its mouth. A mouse? A pigeon that wasn't quick enough?

Dead, with my eyes wide open, I began a new life without a body. I had nothing to fear.

DOWNTOWN FRESNO. I floated into Longs Drugs right through the plate glass and positioned myself over the head of a cashier, her eyes narrow as hatchets as she announced over the intercom, "Rafael, code fourteen, aisle six." I knew the meaning of the code-a shoplifter was sliding something under his jacket. I glanced up at the sign posted above aisle six: shampoo and hair care products. My bad. A teenage girl out to improve her looks was snagging one thing or another, and I would have kicked down that aisle except I confronted my uncle Richard and my cousin Eddie-Richard was cradling flowers in his arms and Eddie had large bags of barbecue potato chips under his arms as if they were pillows. Their steps were slow, as if they were wading in water. Their eyes were puffy, their faces dark from not shaving.

"Tío," I called. I pointed a finger at my chest. "Primo, it's me."

They couldn't hear me. They passed through my outstretched arms and headed to the cashier, whose hatchet eyes had become sharper.

I had never seen Uncle Richard with flowers before, but then again I had never seen him cry before, like he did early this morning in his Honda. They were going to visit my parents, I realized, and they believed it was smart of them to bring something sweet-smelling to my mom. And the potato chips? Snacks for the ride over.

At my parents' house, there would be others to lament my death at such a young age. Angel, mi carnal, would be there, with the cement bags of guilt on his shoulders. I should have been with him, he would argue with himself. We could have took the dude! "He would be alive," he would cry, and I would cry in return, "Chale, we would both be dead!" In the three fights that I seen Angel in, he had lost them all. The guy was just a chubby, peace-loving dude.

I stood between Richard and Eddie. Richard said, "I feel weird." He rubbed his arm with his free hand.

Right then, I understood my power. I was dead, but I could offer a chill as cold as ice.

Eddie looked toward the ceiling. "It's the air-conditioning. It's set too cold."

They bought their goodies and were out the door just as the cashier cried into the intercom, "Rafael, code fourteen, aisles seven, nine, and fourteen."

Incredible, I thought. People lifting the whole store.

Copyright © 2003 by Gary Soto

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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  • Posted December 1, 2013

    The Afterlife was written by Gary Sotto and was published by Har

    The Afterlife was written by Gary Sotto and was published by Hartcourt Inc. in 2003. The subject of the book is how Chuy, the main character, dies and turns into a ghost. He is able to go where ever he wants and no one can see or hear him. He travels around town and visits his friends and family. Of course, they are all sad and mourning his death.
    Chuy discovers more and more things about himself being a ghost. The wind will blow him away unless he does certain things, like bracing himself. This is the only way he controls where he goes while he is outside. He can touch things, like pens or paper. He can pick them up, open things and move things. He can reach inside of a person and feel inside them. He can breathe on something and make it freeze with the coldness of death. He uses these qualities to effect people's lives that are still living.
    Before Chuy died, he was at a club where he was going to have some fun with his friends. He was in the restroom and complimented a guy's yellow shoes. Next thing he knew, Chuy was looking down at his own body that had been stabbed lifeless. He now goes throughout his town as a ghost. He visits his parents, friends, brother, and cousin. He watches how their lives change without him and also finds Yellow Shoes.
    I found this book very interesting and I really enjoyed it. I like it because it made me wonder if you actually turn into a ghost once you die. I loved reading about how Chuy followed his family and I wondered if he could talk to or meet any other ghosts like him. A quote from the book says, “"You dent my ride and I'll kill you!" he threatened with a mean smile., and maybe he meant it. But someone else had killed me first, the guy in the yellow shoes…” He had a good life, and then it was taken away after he was killed. But after a while he began to have fun in the afterlife. “I drifted out onto the field. Who was there to stop me?” I like the book because even though he has lost his life, he has fun with what he has. He goes to football games and stands in the middle of the field and lets the players run straight through him. He enjoys everything he can.
    Throughout the book Gary Soto added Spanish words. Some I already knew, but there were a lot that I didn’t know as well. A few of the words I learned are the following: cara, which means face; chavalo, which means child; hijole, which means wow; and sapo, which means toad. There were many others, too. I also learned that weather or not you are alive, you should still enjoy yourself and have fun while you can.
    I would recommend this book to anyone thirteen or older. Young children shouldn’t read it because the very first few pages are about how Chuy is killed. It is a pretty easy book to read and the story is great. It is well written and I think that anyone will enjoy The Afterlife.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    A Diffrent Kind Of Story...

    The Afterlife written by Gary Soto and published by Harcourt inc., shows two different perspectives of Chuy's life; life and death. The theme of the book is that one should cherish the life they have today and make the best of it because you never know when it will end. For some people death is the beginning of another life...the afterlife. It shows the reader that dying is the end of life, but may be the start of a new one. Gary Soto shows us what the afterlife might be like and he also incorporates some humor into his novel. Gary introduces three main characters that eventually become ghosts. First there is Chuy, a not so attractive 17 year old. He was always second in track, and wasn't tall enough for the basketball team. He found himself to never be the best in anything. However, Chuy was nice, a good student, and loved his friends and family. Crystal, another unfortunate victim of death, meets Chuy in the afterlife. She is amazingly beautiful and has gorgeous brown hair. Crystal had two boyfriends, Eric and Jason, who were both pretty boys. She was popular and well loved; never rejected. Robert Montgomery, a homeless man spending his nights on the streets that died because of a fever, also meets Chuy and Crystal in the afterlife. Robert was an older man who had spent his younger years at three or four foster homes and once used to be a painter. Robert never really knew where home was, but he was born in Fresno where the events take place. One night Chuy goes out to Club Estrella with his friend Rachel, a girl he really likes. When he goes to the bathroom he meets a man with some cool yellow shoes that he compliments him on, and without warning is stabbed multiple times in the ribs. His ghost is then stripped from his body and he sees his body dead on the bathroom floor. Chuy starts to float around, go through walls and visits his loved ones. Chuy describes his experience as a ghost as not having the ability to speak to the living. He can only float through things and send a cold chill so that they may sense his presence. Chuy makes it a mission to understand why he was killed. He comes across the guy in yellow shoes who had stabbed him, and witnesses his unfortunate lifestyle and all the trouble he has been through, going to get into and causes. Chuy meets another ghost, Crystal. He finds out that she had killed herself by taking too many pills because she didn't think she was going to make it big in life and had felt rejected. The two fall in love with each other and things seem to be looking better to Chuy in the afterlife than they did in his previous life. Even though he never understood why he had been murdered, he did discover love. Crystal visits her parents and regrets taking her life. Meanwhile, Chuy meets Robert Montgomery and they become ghostly friends. They both run into Yellow Shoes, who Chuy learns has the same name that he does; Chuy, on a bus and Robert goes into Yellow Shoes' body to try to get him to do better things in his life. I liked the book because it shows the reader to never take life for granted and when it ends the afterlife is like a second perspective on life. The characters had regrets and wished that they could go back and change things in their previous lives, but it's too late! I found that it did get slow at times, but I enjoyed the Spanish words that were used, even though some weren't appropriate. It gets people thinking about what "life" could be like after death. I recommend this b

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  • Posted May 26, 2014

    The novel the Afterlife by Gary Soto was published by Hartcourt

    The novel the Afterlife by Gary Soto was published by Hartcourt Inc. in 2003. It is an upsetting story about
     a boy named Chuy who goes through the afterlife after being stabbed. Shortly after he gets stabbed
     he turns into his ghost and learns that nobody can hear nor see him but can only feel his presence.  
    Chuy visits his family and friends to find them very upset over the tragedy of his sudden death.The night Chuy died he complimented a boy on his yellow sneakers not knowing that he was going to
     strike him in the back three times. Chuy wonders in the afterlife why he had stabbed him he had not
    even known him. In Chuy’s afterlife he see’s the boy who had killed him and follows him.
    The boy walks down an alley and drops the knife that he killed him with it.
    Chuy follows him home and finds out the boy’s named was Chuy also. He begins to hate his name.
    When the boy with yellow sneakers comes home to find a man ready to beat him up for something he did.
     Chuy gets bored and leaves.Chuy along the way finds another ghost who is named Crystal who is
    beautiful too him. He explains how everything works and has been trying to find out why she is dead
     because she doesn't want to tell him. When they are going to her house they find a homeless man who
    is very sick with a fever and is dying. He tried to help him by cooling him town with his touch. I loved this book it sends a very powerful message. It teaches people to cherish the moment.
    “I always dreamed about sleeping in a pile of hay in the arms of someone I loved.” Pg. 231.
     I choose this quote because throughout the book you see what Chuy’s life goals were but having love
    was the one he wanted most. This book also gives a different perspective on life.
    The main character had wished for things that he didn't get and regretted things that he had done.
     I enjoyed knowing most of the Spanish words that Soto had incorporated in his book.
    I would recommend this book for either gender for ages 13 and older.
     I recommended this book for this age group because there is a bit of violence and language and I feel
    this would be the age group that could handle it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2013

    The Afterlife

    Not as good as i thought it woulld be.

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  • Posted December 12, 2012

    For this book report I read The Afterlife by Gary Soto. The Afte

    For this book report I read The Afterlife by Gary Soto. The Afterlife was published by Harcourt Inc. in 2003. The theme of this book is that there are two phases in life: life and death. In this story Gary Soto will show you what the main character sees after he dies. The main character of The Afterlife is a normal 17-year-old boy named Chuy that lives in California and is Mexican. He likes track but is always in 2nd place. He also likes basketball but the coach told him he is too short. He is nice to his friends and family and is a fairly good student.
    The book starts with Chuy in a nightclub bathroom preparing himself to meet up with a girl that he really likes. As he is in there looking at himself in the mirror, another man comes in, kind of “gangster” looking with stylish yellow shoes, to wash his hands. Being the nice kid that Chuy is, he compliments the guy on his shoes. Instead of saying thank-you, the guy stabs Chuy in the stomach multiple times, leaving him laying on the ground bleeding out. Since there is nobody there to witness it, Chuy lays there for a few minutes until his ghost begins to separate from his dying body. Chuy was very mind-blown on what just happened as he was hovering over his own dead self in ghost form. As he became more aware that he had died and turned into a ghost, he had also become aware that he was floating through the ceiling and out the roof of the nightclub. Once he is about thirty feet above the nightclub, he notices that the police are starting to show up. A few minutes later his parents come for the bad news. Right when they start to cry, the wind picks up and starts to push Chuy’s ghost along in the direction of his house. He visits his heart broken cousins, uncles, and aunts before he sets out to find out why he got stabbed in the first place. As he is floating around in a bad part of town, he sees the guy in the yellow shoes and follows him for a little bit until he sees where he lives. The guy lives in a rundown looking house that seems to have a stockpile of stolen goods in it that his fat friend Fausto is planning on selling to make some money. Chuy is content with what he has seen on “yellow shoes” level of poverty and he floats on through town. As he is floating he notices that his fingers and toes are disappearing. He concludes that over time a ghost will disappear. After floating around he sees a girl, but this is no ordinary girl, she is a ghost too. He floats over to her to ask her about herself and eventually he finds out a lot about her. Her name is Crystal and she was the vice president of her school and a cheerleader. She had two boyfriends. Both were jocks. He also finds out how she died. She had purposefully overdosed on pills because she had thought she would not make it anywhere in life. Over the course of two days they had managed to fall in love with each other.
    I really liked this book because it was set in the view of a ghost and it had the two of them fall in love. During my reading of this book, I learned to not take anything for granted, and that life may not end when you die. I would recommend this book to kids my age because, as I said, there is the love parts, which younger kids would not understand. Altogether I thought this was a great book and I would definitely read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    Smoke 101

    I started reading it, and it's already funny! Cannot wait to read the rest of the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    THE AFTERLIFE

    This is an OK book I guess,it just didn't have anything that stuck out to me to make it a wonderful book and I didn't really like the ending too much. I just feel like Mr. Soto gave up before he finished or something(also it's not a very long book for those that like books like that). The story is told through 17 year old Chuy's eyes. He's in the bathroom of a club one night getting ready to meet a girl he likes when he is stabbed to death for complimenting a guy's yellow shoes. He is now a ghost going to family and friends after and finding out how much he was really loved. He meets the ghost of a girl(Crystal) who commited suicide and they go back to her parents and boyfriends(she had more than one). Some people may like this book(it wasn't terrible) but it really didn't do anything for me except pass some time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2009

    Not as good as I thought

    The book The Afterlife, isn't particularly what I expected it to be about. I knew it was about the after life of a teenager, but the way that it described the afterlife wasn't real exciting. I was surprised to read about a ghost who temporarily floated around in the air but, I wasn't surprised that he met other ghosts. The spirits body's were slowly disappearing limb by limb, and they were light as a feather, it was difficult to fight the winds power but with focus and concentration he was able to go where he wanted to go.
    It begins with the death of the main character Chuy by getting stabbed and dieing immediately, isn't that odd way to begin a book. All Chuy did was complement some guy for having cool yellow shoes and the creepy stranger decided to stab him. The entire book was about him being a ghost visiting his family and meeting two new ghosts. Also the book doesn't explain to much about what happened to his body once he became a ghost. Once Chuy was a ghost he was able to walk through walls, make living people sense him and lastly he was invincible. He wanders around his town experimenting his powers as a ghost. He eventually meets a girl named Charlotte and she tells him that she died from pills. They end up liking each other and spend a lot of time together.
    In general this book was decent. It was very interesting to hear someones opinion of what happens after death. Once you die you get to be a ghost for a little while, it made me think whats going to happen after I die. I thought that this book was very well written. It was cool how the author added some Spanish words in the text. I liked having to look them up seeing what they meant. Even though some of the words weren't so nice. Out of 5 stars I would give it a 3. It wasn't amazing but as well it wasn't horrible it was just OK.

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  • Posted December 15, 2009

    The Afterlife

    Have you ever wondered where you would go after your life ended? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a ghost? If so, the book The Afterlife written by Gary Soto is highly recommended. This book starts off with an brutal beginning as the main character Chuy, also known as Jesus spends his night at a normal teen night club named Estrella. His night was going along as any other night would be, when he makes one decision that would change his entire life. You'd think it would be something horrible or against the law, but all Chuy did was comment on another kid's bright yellow shoes. The kid, also known to Chuy as "Yellow Shoes" quickly stabs a knife into Chuy's chest, and kills him. You would thing that was the end, but for Chuy, this would be the beginning of a new life for him: the afterlife. Soon after Chuy realizes he is dead he sees his body lying hopelessly on the floor of the restroom, in which nobody should die. He soon begins to notice he can float, go through walls, and more. Chuy looks back on his life that he once thought of as very boring and not so interesting, and really begins to wish he had appreciated it more. Chuy now knows that this is not a dream, and there is no possible way that he could come back to life, so he try's to make the best out of being a ghost. He is easily entertained roaming through the air and passing through walls. He evens follows around 'Yellow Shoes' to get a glimpse of how he really is. He notices pieces of his body start to vanish into thin air. This scares Chuy, but he figures its all just apart of the afterlife. He soon meets the 'love of his afterlife', Rachel. Rachel is also a ghost. Once they roam for a while and get to know one another, Chuy finds out that Rachel was one of the most popular ones in her school, and a cheerleader. That's when he realizes she had taken her own life. It shocks Chuy and he is very curious to why she would do that. Later, he finds out that she had over-dosed on pain medication due to the depression of her two past boyfriends. He teaches Rachel how to glide gently throughout the air, and all the cool benefits about being a ghost. They soon find out that they met before, when they were alive. Chuy and his father had worked on Rachel's house. That's when Chuy realized that they were meant to be together. Chuy notices that Rachel is starting to vanish as well as him, and they come to realize that they wont be ghosts for much longer. As they fly off into the park to take one last look of Rachel's dead body in her car, they find a homeless man, looking ragged and worn out, close to death, who later is identified as Robert Montgomery. After the homeless man dies, they become ghostly friends. Robert is a very kind-hearted guy, and when learns how Chuy died, becomes very upset. He actually goes into Yellow Shoe's body, and makes him do better things, and stay out of trouble. The book continues on and has a very good ending. I love this book very much because it makes me realize how one little decision can impact your whole life. It also made me look at death as not such a bad thing, because afterlife can be just as great, and for Chuy - even greater. I would recommend this book to just about anybody who loves books about life, and people who love reading stories all the way through, and even if you are not one of those people, this book is very different and very engaging. I enjoyed The Afterlife by Gary Soto immensely.

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  • Posted November 10, 2009

    The Afterlife

    My reviewing is from the Afterlife noble. This story had a good message of forgiveness. The message that this book is sending is forgiveness. We need to forgive and to always tell our loved ones how much we love them, because we never know when we are going to die. The tone of the story was sad. Also it was a tragedy to because he got killed in a cruel way. The author purpose was to entertain the reader's in an interesting story. The genre from this book was contemporary realistic fiction. Contemporary realistic fiction because in the beginning of the story Chui is dying in the restroom of the club he is expressing how he is feeling. Also that he is realizing that his losing his life. The afterlife story takes place in Fresno in a club called Estrella. In this place is where the action takes place because in this place yellow shoes murder chuy with a knife. Chuy begins being a ghost and starts wonder in Fresno. The main characters are Chui, Crystal, and Yellow Shoes. The purpose of Chui and crystal was to say goodbye to their family. I liked this book because they both go to heaven. I also liked this book because it was a short story and it had a nice spiritual ending. I agreed with the purpose of the message. To forgive those who harm us because we could live or rest. The specifically thing that I like was the romance of Chui and Crystal. The author did a good job on this story because it was short and interesting. It could be improved more by adding one more chapter in the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    The Afterlife by Gary Soto has been one of the best books I have read.

    How would you react if you saw your body slowly die but your soul was still a live? Especially, if you don't believe in ghost. "The Afterlife by Gary Soto, is great book to read for all the fantasy/journey/romance lovers. The main character "Chuy", goes through a difficult journey after he is killed by some random guy in a club's restroom. He experiments his ghostly body in ways he never taught he'd be. As a ghost, he can see and listen to everyone but no one even knows his soul is around.He tries to get every ones attention with what ever he can but nothing seems to work. Chuy's main objective is to find out why that guy kills him. During his investigation he meets another ghost. She is a beautiful young girl that is his age. She committed suicide. She is a very confused,shy, and sad ghost when she meets Chuy. Both ghostly spirits end up falling in love. Towards the end of the amazing story he never finds out why that guy kills him but he does find out what true love feels like. He analyzes his life and finds out the things that mattered in his life and wants to go back to life to accomplish many things he wanted to do. His reflection is sad but theirs nothing he can do to go back. The message he gives is to value what you do have now that you may not have tomorrow. This is book for all ages. For any one who is going through a tough time and may feel like life isn't the best thing their is this is the book you should read. I truly recommend you to read this book. The author Gary Soto is a great Latino writer. He has many other great books to read.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    Impressions of The Afterlife by Gary Soto

    `The Afterlife¿ by Gary Soto starts with a harsh beginning as Chuy, a young teenager gets stabbed inside the bathroom of a nightclub. For some, death would be the end of everything, but for Chuy it was just the beginning. A few minutes after Chuy dies, he rises out of his body to become his own ghost. He flies over Fresno, his hometown and discovers what his new figure is like. He visits his best friend, his ¿would-be novia¿, and his family and friends. Chuy realizes just how many people care for him and love him as he watches them grieve after his death. As time goes on, Chuy recognizes that his time as a ghost is limited, and he races against the clock to make sure he can visit everyone one last time. Chuy meets another ghost named Rachel, who could be his first true love. In the afterlife, Chuy learns a lot about life, love, and death. Soto¿s novel allows the reader to view life from a different perspective. I thought 'The Afterlife' was nicely written overall, but it had some slow parts where my mind started to drift off. I enjoyed the plot of the story, and it was very unique from other books that I have read in the past. I enjoyed how Soto inserted blurbs of Spanish into the English text. For example, instead of saying ¿baggy Dickies cut off at the knees¿, he wrote ¿huango Dickies cut off at the knees¿. This creative writing style allowed for a nice diversion within the text. The Afterlife leaves a moving message upon the reader after finishing the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2008

    The After life

    The after life is a very good book, everything is surreal. The way the author tells the story is very compelling; it makes you feel like you are there with the main character in the story. When the main character dies his soul leaves his body and he feels no more pain, after he was stabbed by the boy in the yellow shoes. His body is lying on the floor of the rest room in which no should die. The main character can see around the rest room, and also the blood which was flowing on the flood, now, he realizes that he is dead and that he can float around and see thing by floating, but he not very good at it. In the story He is able to see his parents crying for him and, also can touch them or make them feel any better. Later in the story he finds out that he can make his family feel him by blowing on them so that they can feel a cold chill running down their body. The story gets more interesting when his family wants revenge his death. His mother is the one who wants the revenge. She ask her nephew to do the deed, but he refuse to do it. The main character then meets another person, who has died and she doesn¿t know how to control her self, because she is floating like a bird that has a broken wing. So the main character shows her how to float. But the girl tells him what happen to his foot. He looks down and sees that his foot has disappeared and that his time was running out. So now he has a bit of little time left in this world, because he is being erased. When time is not on your side you must do what¿s more important to you. The main character finds the girl he was looking for in the after life. This is a great book to read.

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  • Posted October 22, 2008

    THE AFTERLIFE.

    i thought this book was very good & well writen. it really kept me wanting to read more & not put the book down. there was alot of spanish in the book, i liked that alot exspecialy because i happen to need more help in that language. the only thing i'd have to say is that this books ending could have been a little better. but besides that i highly recommend it :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    Nifty Spiffy! :D

    I loved this book. The reason for not giving it all 5 stars, is because the ending kinda sucks, leaves you kinda hanging a bit. But I really liked it, couldn't put it down, i recommend it. :D

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2007

    The Afterlife

    The Afterlife by Gary Soto was a good book. This book is about a kid named Chuy who was murdered by a man with yellow shoes. After being murdered he realizes he¿s in the ¿afterlife¿ and a ghost. He wonders around town trying to find out who his murderer is. While on his journey he goes to visit his family and friends to say sorry for what had happened to him and they should not worry about him because he is okay. During this he runs into a girl who surprisingly could see him, she was also a ghost. He helped her out and taught her the rules to being a ghost. He soon realizes he¿s in love with her and somehow thinks she looks familiar. Later on he finds out he met her when he was little, and she also likes her. I would recommend this book to people who like stories about death and love. This book shows that love comes in different ways even if it¿s in the afterlife.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2007

    Great book for ages 12 and up

    'The Afterlife', by Gary Soto is a great book that won't let you stop reading. Jesus, known by his friends at Fresno High as Chuy, is the main character of the book. He is a normal teenager until a night when he decides to go out to a Club with some friends. Chuy makes a smart remark to a man wearing bright yellow shoes, and thinks nothing of it. But, as he is standing there, the man plunges a knife into Chuy's chest unexpectedly. Once Chuy dies and leaves his body on the bathroom floor of the club, his 'life' starts to get interesting. Chuy looks back on his life that he once thought of as plain and sometimes boring, and really wishes he had appreciated it more. Chuy knows that there is no way that he is going to ever come back to life, so he tries to make the best of being a ghost. He is easily entertained by soaring through the air and passing through walls. Chuy even follows around his killer to see what he's really like, since he had no clue as to who he was. Chuy soon meets the love of his 'life', Rachel. Rachel is around Chuy's age and is also a ghost. Chuy learns that she was very popular and was involved in many things when she was alive. This is why Chuy is shocked when she informs him that she had killed herself. You later find out that she had done this mainly because of her two boyfriends that she was going out with at one time. Chuy and Rachel witness a fight between Rachel's boyfriends, which adds to her distress. He teaches Rachel the basics of being a ghost. They soon find out that they had met once before when they were alive. Chuy and his father had been working outside of Rachel's house and she had seen him when he came in for a drink. Chuy fully believes that they were meant for each other. Chuy notices that his body is rapidly disappearing along with Rachel's. They come to realize that they wont be ghosts for much longer. As the two of them are going through the park where Rachel's car with her body was, they came across a dying homeless man, later identified as Robert Montgomery. Chuy uses his ghost powers to return the mans soul to his body, but this doesn't last and the man dies. When Chuy meets Robert, he finds him to be a great friend and a very nice person. Robert learns of what had happened to Chuy and he is furious. Robert makes an attempt to make Chuy(also the name of the killer) a better person by going into his body and trying to make him do better things such as go to church. The plot of the book is very well written. I really liked this book. The major thing that really interested me about the way it was written is the way that Soto would put Spanish words into a sentence at random. I like this because, due to the context clues, you can pretty much always figure out what the word translated to in english. This was just something new that I liked that I had never came across before. This book really gave me a new outlook on life. It shows that life might actually not end at death. It shows that the best things in your life may occur after death. The way that Soto describes the afterlife makes it much easier to talk or just think about. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone above age 12.(Some parts may seem too graphic to younger readers) The book is very well written and easy to understand. It also keeps you wanting to read the whole way through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2007

    The Meaning Of The Afterlife

    This novel is published by Library Of Congress Cataloging-in- Publication Data. The Afterlife by Gary Soto made me realize how important the afterlife really is. A teenager named Chuy has an average life until he is stabbed to death by a man he refers to as ¿ Yellow shoes¿. Chuy ends up becoming a ghost and he has to face the problems in his memories. When he is a ghost he wanders the towns searching for answers and remembering past experiences he had. Also, Chuy wishes he could go back in time to fix some of the mistakes that he made. Learning the experiences of being a ghost he revisits some of his friends and family. He is discouraged when he sees them teary eyed and upset. During his lifetime he wished for a girl named Rachel to like him. Chuy¿s mind is focused on love throughout the story. Finally when he meets Crystal , another ghost, he is happy and curious. But Chuy is starting to disappear and he has no idea why. The main theme in the story is curiosity because Chuy gets into many situations by his curiosity. I liked this novel because I thought it was a classic piece of literature. It made me think twice about ghosts and the afterlife. If I have learned anything in life from this book¿I would say I learned that it is alright to die. Life is not always fair even though we wish it were. I would recommend this book to any age because it is a novel that makes you appreciate what you have, especially your life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2007

    Boring

    The back of the book sounded REALLY good so I started to read it. I figured it was just hard to get into, but it was boring throughout the whole book. If you're looking for juicy murder books, this isn't one. Sorry :-(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    From a different perspective

    I think that this was an incredible book. I really enjoyed how the story was told from a ghost's perspective. Having the main character die on the second page of the book was both shocking and unbelievable. I would really recommend this book to other people because it is told from a perspective that isn't normally done. The fact that the ghost of the main character is telling the story allows for an interesting approach to how the story unfolds and how it is narrated.

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