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Posted December 5, 2013
I liked this book on so many levels. First of all, I am a huge fan of descriptive writing and from the moment Abby Calloway pulls up to her new house and "the Honda shakes and vibrates as its tires crunch over gravel and bounce over potholes," I am hooked. As a voracious reader and writer myself, I know how difficult it is to hold back and do the hard work involved with really inviting readers into the world of a book. The tendency is to skip over some of those small elements in order to get to the ACTION! But it's that subtle layering of details that creates the world the reader will enter. I think that the often-tedious job of relaying those details is what separates a good book from an outstanding one and I applaud the author's patience and sustained effort.
Next, the story itself: suspenseful! At points in this story (my fellow readers know exactly what I'm talking about here), my heart was racing and I had to stop and take a deep, calming breath. I found myself totally invested in the fate of these characters and, on a deeper lever, I kept pondering the book's premise: trust your instincts. I thinks that idea is not only the central point of the story but a vitally important aspect of this book.
I've often though YA authors have a harder task than writers of other genres. Not only are they charged with the task of entertaining, but also inspiring and teaching teen readers. The message here is clear and vital: if a person seems like a creep, go with your gut and steer clear of that person! It's a lesson we can't teach our children and teens often enough. When we adults raise our kids, we want them to be adept at the social graces and "nice" to everyone. But instincts are there for a reason and we all need to pay attention when we sense something doesn't seem right. Kudos to JoAnne Keltner for reinforcing this important message while providing us with a wild, entertaining, rollercoaster ride of a tale!
Posted March 4, 2013
Obsession is a charming first book by JoAnne Keltner aimed directly at young girls facing family challenges. The heroin is 13-year-old Abby Calloway whose family has just left their home in Schaumburg and moved to a house in the backwoods of Wisconsin. Abby doesn’t take well to the move that separated her from her friends and plunked her down in a house that’s only half-built—one bathroom that is unfinished and doesn’t even have a tub, sink, or toilet.
Yet her mother is obsessed with painting murals on the walls, which pretty much leaves Abby and her sister Katie on their own. Katie is five years older, and all she and Abby do is fight. Then Katie, old enough to work, leaves for a waitress job several miles away. With Abbey’s truck driver dad gone on a job, Abby can only reach out to her friend Jess back home using her mother’s cell phone. But with phone minutes being a precious commodity, even that avenue of escape is limited.
Abby must face life on her own. And LIFE comes at her fast in the form of a first period, a creepy boy, a strange ghost of a girl her age, and learning her way around the country roads, to the store, woodlands, and a lake.
The strange girl Abby sees is in fact, a ghost. With Abby being the only one who can see this misty soul, it becomes her challenge to discover why the ghost girl is still hanging around and why the creepy boy and his father, construction workers on the house, take so much longer to finish the roof and inside floors than they should.
The book has a very Nancy Drew feel to its story, but it adds just enough dark edges to fit the current young adult fashion in fiction. Very satisfying story, ending, and characters. And it is well-suited to the young girls of today.