Gr 5-8- Thirteen-year-old Davia and her parents arrive at a once-grand Louisiana plantation to spend the summer caring for her crotchety and terminally ill great-aunt Mari. While the elderly woman has worked hard to restore the "Big House" to rights, she has not been as successful at bringing the ghost of a mid-19th-century relative to peace. Emilie, the shade of a 13-year-old Creole girl, continues to haunt the plantation's inhabitants, sometimes spitefully and other times playfully. From her deathbed, Aunt Mari entrusts the release of Emilie's spirit to Davia, who overcomes her fear of a great many things to learn how to honor the living, the dying, and the dead. The novel lacks a unifying focus. It manages some spooky episodes but doesn't truly evoke the atmosphere of a horror tale. It involves family dynamics, such as fears surrounding Davia's asthma and the possibility that her mother's cancer, now in remission, may reoccur, but the characters never seem to connect. Though Davia unravels the mysterious circumstances of Emilie's death, the story isn't suspenseful, and the girl's encounters with the ghost often seem dreamlike. Still, the book will draw some readers through its subject matter and will thereby connect them with a character seeking to understand her family, her place in a larger scheme of things, and her glimpse beyond the natural world. This offering will appeal to youngsters who feel that supernaturally themed books need not be riveting to be consumed.-Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GACopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Nearly every family has an eccentric member who seems odd to the rest of the clan. However, not many of us will be called to their bedside as a nursemaid when the individual is dying. That's what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Peters and their daughter Davia when they decided to care for Mrs. Peters' great-aunt Mari. Arriving in the humid, summer heat of a former southern plantation, Davia is surprised to find her relative living in a converted barn. Aunt Mari refuses to live in the big, haunted mansion on the vast estate. With her list of fears in hand, Davia and her family, including a self-righteous cat named GG, take up residence at Belle Foret. Not only is the family expected to cater to the whims of an old woman who cannot be pleased, Davia is also expected to befriend Emilie, the ghost who haunts the grounds where she lived and died more than a hundred years before. Aunt Mari cannot "give up the ghost" and cross over in peace until Emilie does. However, the ghost has a secret that must come out in order to cross over and find peace in the afterlife. "Save me!" Davia must uncover the secret from the prankster spirit and help her forgive herself--a very tall order for two teenaged souls. Davia is only fourteen, but mature for her age. She is not only dealing with the imminent death of her newly acquainted relative and the needs of a teenaged ghost, she is also coping with the aftermath of her mother's cancer treatment. Is her mom really in remission or is there something her parents aren't telling her? This book delves into the emotions of this brave, young girl and gives an example of how to deal with death by facing reality head on. Sheri Sinykin did an excellent job with telling this story from Davia's point of view. Her writing style is top-notch. I was engaged from the first page and could not put this book down. I hated to see the end because I had fallen in love with every character--even old Aunt Mari and the cat that decided to become her best friend. If you are facing the death of a loved one or are assisting with the care of an aging family member, Giving up the Ghost is a must-read. Although the book is geared toward a teen reader, any adult can appreciate its solid foundation and grown up treatment of a topic that most people fear.