Nothing but Ghosts

Nothing but Ghosts

5.0 7
by Beth Kephart
     
 

Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery. There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but

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Overview

Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery. There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts: symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story—the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.

This is a heartfelt, lyrical tale from the National Book Award-nominated author of Undercover and House of Dance.

Editorial Reviews

The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
Elegantly polished yet tender, with the book deftly illuminating complicated emotions and relationships
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Elegantly polished yet tender, with the book deftly illuminating complicated emotions and relationships
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Elegantly polished yet tender, with the book deftly illuminating complicated emotions and relationships
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Elegantly polished yet tender, with the book deftly illuminating complicated emotions and relationships
BookPage.com
Beth Kephart’s dazzling new novel is wise and wonderful, certain to be a revelation for young adult readers.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Elegantly polished yet tender, with the book deftly illuminating complicated emotions and relationships
Publishers Weekly
Coping with loss and uncovering secrets are staples of YA fiction, but Kephart (House of Dance) skillfully uses nuanced characters and resonant imagery to make the familiar feel new and magical. Sixteen-year-old Katie D'Amore and her father live in an old “heirloom” house, one that's far too large following the recent death of Katie's mother. Her father restores paintings—bringing torn, stained and begrimed canvases back to life—and Katie has taken a summer job as a gardener for the town recluse, Miss Martine, which offers another kind of resurrection. But neither can leave grief behind. Orders to excavate an unlikely spot for a new gazebo lead Katie to investigate the mystery behind Miss Martine's sudden withdrawal from the world. Her search parallels her father's current restoration project, which also gives tantalizing glimpses into an old tragedy and the still-open wounds it left behind. Kephart's evocative writing and gentle resolution offer healing and hope as her characters come to terms with their losses. As Katie says, “Things disappear and vanish... and after that all you can do is keep the idea of them bright inside yourself.” Ages 12–up. (July)
VOYA - Joyce Doyle
Katie tries to deal with her mother's death by isolating herself from her friends and spending her summer working as a gardener for the reclusive Miss Martine. When she arrives at work early, Katie catches the caretaker Old Olson looking for something in the dirt excavated for a new gazebo, and she decides to uncover the mystery and discover Miss Martine's secret. Boxes of "local lore" provided with the help of the town librarian, an old painting brought to her father for restoration, and an insistent finch at her window mix with a superhero neighbor child and a little romance to help Katie discover Miss Martine, her mother, and herself. Kephart weaves a variety of elements into the story with poetic grace. There are some beautiful phrases and descriptions scattered throughout the book; however, there are almost too many facets to the story line, many of which are conveniently coincidental, leaving the reader confused if it is a mystery, a romance, or a character study. Meanwhile there is not quite enough of any one element to strengthen the story appeal—readers will wish there was more to the mystery or the romance. True to life, no single piece of the story is tied up into a pretty bow at the end, but instead some questions are left unanswered. Although there is no edgy content, this story will most likely only appeal to more sophisticated readers. Reviewer: Joyce Doyle
Children's Literature - Melissa Joy Adams
Katie has never felt more alone. Ever since her mother died, her house has seemed too old and too big without her mother's vivacious personality to fill it up. After taking a gardening job at a local estate, Katie discovers a mystery surrounding the owner of the estate, Miss Martine, and whatever happened years ago to cause her to become a recluse. When the caretaker directs the gardeners to dig a deep excavation hole near the river, Katie, with the help of her coworker Danny, turns to the local library in hopes of uncovering the mystery. As she unearths more clues, memories of the last summer with her mother surface which help Katie begin processing her grief over her mother's death. While Kephart's novel is beautifully written and contains a touching storyline, readers looking for a quicker pace and more overt tension and suspense will find the novel somewhat lacking. Reviewer: Melissa Joy Adams
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–When her mother dies of cancer, 16-year-old Katie finds it painful to continue the patterns of her old life, so she makes the unexpected choice of taking a summer job in the gardens of the nearby estate belonging to reclusive Miss Martine. There she works under the caretaker with the other part-timers and stumbles upon a two-pronged mystery: Why are they digging so deeply near the river, and how does that relate to whatever sent the debutante Miss Martine out of society more than 50 years earlier? Katie’s father, a brilliant art-restoration expert, contributes to the search for answers as he cleans an elaborate painting that he believes Miss Martine’s father, a millionaire industrialist, created near the time of her seclusion. Research into some donated boxes of local lore at the library and assistance from the librarian and an intriguing boy who also works at the estate aid in her investigation. Meanwhile, Katie grieves: memories of a family spur-of-the-moment trip to Barcelona the summer before remind her of how her mother made an event out of everything and made her feel loved. Somehow it’s easier for the teen to deal with Miss Martine’s ghosts than with the aching absence of her mother. Nice writing and characterization can’t quite compensate for a lack of suspense, a romance that never really gets off the ground, and a story that doesn’t draw one in.–Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Kirkus Reviews
A long-buried mystery weaves its way through this delicately layered portrait of a grief-stricken daughter and father that meditates on the nature of loss. Listless and withdrawn following the death of her mother, Katie takes a summer job as a landscaper on the estate of the enigmatic, reclusive Miss Martine. Meanwhile, Katie's father, a conservator, is commissioned to restore an unusual painting, which may be linked to Miss Martine's decades-old disappearance from public life. Kephart's latest is characterized by the same achingly lovely prose that distinguished her earlier novels for teens, Undercover (2007) and House of Dance (2008). However, the characters are at times too idealized and adult-as when 17-year-old Katie thinks to herself that "Mom used to say that being responsible has its own rewards, and the more I live the more I figure that she was right about that." Teens with a taste for literary fiction will appreciate the deft wordsmithing and be touched by the unabashed tenderness of the narrative, but it is unlikely to have wide appeal. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061667961
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/23/2009
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Beth Kephart was nominated for a National Book Award for her memoir A Slant of Sun. Her first novel for teens, Undercover, received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Amazon.com. In 2005 Beth was awarded the Speakeasy Poetry Prize. She has also written Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter; Still Love in Strange Places: A Memoir; Ghosts in the Garden: Reflections on Endings, Beginnings, and the Unearthing of Self; Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River; Zenobia: The Curious Book of Business; and House of Dance. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

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