Slipping [NOOK Book]


What begins with a sense that Michael's deceased grandfather might be inhabiting his body soon escalates to "slipping" into to the river of the dead. When Michael slips, he relives moments of his grandfather's life and tries to help him find peace. But each time he ventures into the river it's harder to come out again. Michael will have to depend on an unlikely group of friends to keep him from slipping . . . permanently. A penetrating twist on the classic ghost story, full of humor and insight about family ...
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What begins with a sense that Michael's deceased grandfather might be inhabiting his body soon escalates to "slipping" into to the river of the dead. When Michael slips, he relives moments of his grandfather's life and tries to help him find peace. But each time he ventures into the river it's harder to come out again. Michael will have to depend on an unlikely group of friends to keep him from slipping . . . permanently. A penetrating twist on the classic ghost story, full of humor and insight about family relationships.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In most ghost stories, a house is haunted, or perhaps an object, the echoes of past tragedies captured in musty rooms or a threadbare doll. In Bell's intense if uneven debut novel, however, the haunting occupies not so much a physical space as the broken bonds between fathers and sons.

Thirteen-year-old Michael Kimmel's family is wealthy, but hardly comfortable, and in many senses undernourished. Facing an upcoming ballet recital, his older sister, Julia, is too nervous to eat-fearing that her daughter is anorexic, their mother stops eating in turn. Their overworked father thrives on protein shakes, perfectionism and canceling the family vacations at the last minute. Michael retreats from all this stress into the rule-governed chaos of video games.

Then one night Michael's father comes home with cracks in his armor: "My dad is someone who is never late, who is never wrong, who is never sad. But just then, he looked like he was maybe all three."

Michael's grandfather is dead.

The family's reaction is strangely muted. Michael hasn't seen his grandfather for years, since a break between father and son that he's too young to remember. But as in any ghost story, the past isn't dead. Soon the grandfather's spirit is haunting Michael, drawing him into a demimonde of the restless dead, where family history (and family secrets) are revealed.

Being haunted is not healthy. Michael returns from these "slips" shaken and half-frozen. Without meaning to, his grandfather is sucking the life out of him.

Ghosts, of course, always want something-the trick is finding out what. Ghost stories are puzzles, games played to uncover a hidden past. So it feels both inventiveand logical when Michael approaches his haunting like a new video game.

He collects an assortment of allies: his former best friend, his big sister, a bully, a paranormal geek and a professional psychic. He learns the rules of the afterlife, and braves deeper levels of his grandfather's memories. Ultimately, Michael discovers the roots of his unhappy relationship with his own father, and the truth of what the ghost is looking for.

Bell's spare prose evokes a tightly wound family, and elegantly renders the world from Michael's gloomy, nescient point of view. But the book's paranormal set pieces often feel muddled-the mechanics and geography of the demimonde don't become clearer as the game is played. (There's a River of the Dead, and tunnels under the river, I think.) But the story succeeds in that its paranormal dynamics echo the real world's. Breaks between father and son, parent and child, do play out in the next generation.

Families really are haunted by the past, in a way that houses are not.

Scott Westerfeld is the author of the Uglies, Midnighters and Peeps series. His next book is Bogus to Bubbly, an Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies (Simon Pulse, Oct.).

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Michael Kimmel was never close to his grandfather, but when he hears about his grandfather's death something strange starts happening. Michael seems to know things he couldn't know, but things that his grandfather would know. He startles his father by speaking rudely to him, rudely in the way that his grandfather had spoken to him years before. Michael upsets a young classmate, Ewan, who has recently lost his own father. Then something really odd happens to Michael; he slips out of his reality and into the world of his grandfather's past. A basketball game puts Michael into the trenches of the World War with abilities that Michael never realized he had. Finally unable to keep these occurrences to himself, Michael confides in Ewan, who already knows about the phenomenon of "slipping," of entering into the river of the dead. But this is not a place the living can remain for long and it starts to feel to Michael as though he might not be able to return to his own life. With the help of his friends and his older sister, Michael seeks to help his grandfather find the peace that keeps them both slipping through time. Middle school readers will be interested in the concept as the novel speculates on what happens when someone dies. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8

When his estranged grandfather passes away, Michael Kimmel, 13, begins to feel a weird eeriness that develops into moments where he "slips" into the world of his grandfather's memories. He begins to communicate with the deceased, learning more about his sad and dysfunctional relationship with his son, Michael's father. Each "slip" into the dead man's mind brings the teen dangerously closer to his own passing as he becomes increasingly unable to "slip" out of "the river of the dead." First-time author Bell has created a gripping supernatural fantasy and psychological drama, blending family controversies with coming-of-age issues of peer acceptance and success. Michael's concerns over his height and abilities on the basketball court are continually overshadowed by his own strained relationship with his demanding father. Michael is a well-developed protagonist balanced by four supporting roles: his older sister, Julia; best friend, Gus; and new friends Ewan and Trip, fleshing out a teen-centered story with adults clearly taking an ancillary role. Persuasive descriptions of Michael's physical pain and psychological exertions climax in a vivid death-defying scene. An interesting short addendum on the fact or fictions of "time slips" will keep readers wondering about the plausibility of a loved-one's connection between death and life.-Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI

Kirkus Reviews
This debut novel features a unique ghostly concept but ultimately fails to deliver. When 13-year-old Michael's grandfather Saul dies, no one in the family grieves much. His austere manner alienated them years before. Then Michael, the narrator, "slips" out of his body into the river of the dead and discovers Saul seeking resolution to his unsatisfactory life and lonely death. Michael is drawn to Saul and wants to help him, finding obvious parallels between the older man and his own rather distant father. Classmates assist Michael as the slipping events become more frequent and harder to control: Ewan, who warns him that he can easily be trapped forever in the river of death; Gus, his former best friend; Trip, a stereotypical jock; and Michael's sister Julia help him learn more about slipping, and pull him back from death at the climax. Insufficiently developed stock characters, a predictable conclusion and the use of dialogue to explain the complicated denouement decrease the plausibility of this tale and may make readers want to slip into something scarier. (Fiction. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599908700
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 10 years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

CATHLEEN DAVITT BELL's first book for young readers was Slipping. She received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    Someone is going to pay


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Breanna F. for

    Michael is an average, ordinary boy. But, when his grandfather that he barely even knew dies, something happens to him. <BR/><BR/>Somehow, Michael is seeing his grandpa. All of a sudden he'll get really cold and he'll open his eyes and he won't be where he was a minute ago. He'll be in a dark place with his grandfather standing in front of him. His grandpa tells him that he can pull Michael in and show him all of his memories. Because of this, Michael is finding out things he never knew before. Like how he and his grandfather always fought and never got along. And that that's why his father is the way he is today. <BR/><BR/>Of course, Michael is freaked out about all of this and has no idea if what's happening is real or just an elaborate dream. A boy at school, Ewan, who is obsessed with the dead because his father is deceased, tells Michael that what's happening to him is called "Slipping" and that it's very rare. Michael's art teacher even gives him the number of a very famous psychic and tells him to go see her, because even she doesn't believe what Michael is telling her. <BR/><BR/>He ends up going to see the psychic with his ex-best friend, Gus, his older sister, Julia, Ewan, and Trip (Gus's new best friend). The psychic tells him that what's happening to him is much more serious and dangerous than Slipping and that he should try to stop it immediately before something happens to him. But can Michael really control what's happening or will he end up dead just like his grandfather? <BR/><BR/>This was a pretty short but very intense story. From the very first page I was hooked. What was happening to Michael was totally freaky but cool at the same time. Being able to see his grandfather's memories and everything was so awesome. The whole book was very touching, along with all of the crazy, intense moments. <BR/><BR/>The ending was pretty good. I feel like it could have been a bit longer and the author could have gone in to detail a little bit more. But all in all, SLIPPING was a very good book. I hope Cathleen Davitt Bell writes another great one soon.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    Scary, but thoroughly enjoyable

    I saw this book at a friend's house and the title and cover illustration intrigued me. I don't usually like scary stories but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    'All my friends should read it...' says my son

    My 12 year old son loved this book! He said, ¿I think all my friends should read it! They are going to really like it.¿ My son is a voracious reader, but he has pretty high standards. This book delivered! The plot was compelling and exciting. (I read it too and couldn¿t put it down.) I think kids that like sci fi/fantasy and kids who like realistic fiction will both enjoy this book. It has good elements of both.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    A Must Read

    I was able to read a pre-released copy of Slipping and highly recommend reading it. You won't be disappointed--I sat down and read it within a day and my 10 year old chidl did as well. It appeals to children as well as adults and allows for great conversations. It was a perfect blend of science fiction meets fantasy. I hope to read more works by Cathleen Bell. Very well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    Great read for pre-teens and teens!

    My middle school son read Slipping as did I and we both LOVED it. It will appeal to both boys and girls, but it is especially wonderful to find a book outside of the standard fantasy genre that teen boys will enjoy. It's a great twist on a ghost story with a lot of real life emotions that teens will relate to. Don't miss this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2008

    A great read!

    My teenage son and I read this book for a Book Club we belong to. It is an interesting story and great for Book Club discussion. My son read it in a few nights (always a good indicator). We both liked it and the Book Club memebers gave it great reviews too!

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