Christopher Barzak’s sympathy and humor, his awareness, his easeful vernacular storytelling, are extraordinary, and his mournful, unforgettable teenagers drive us deep into the land of the dead practically before we've even fastened our seatbelts.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
“An amazing, original debut from an amazing, original writer. One for Sorrow may be the most haunting ghost story I’ve ever read.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“An uncommonly good book with brains, heart, and bravery to spare. Readers who don’t find themselves in sympathy with Barzak’s characters were never adolescents themselves.”—Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners
“An honest and uncanny ride through the shadows between grief and acceptance. This is how real magic works.”—Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies and Extras
Traveling through this story with Adam is like a nightmare, but the kind that fascinates you so deeply that when you wake up, you grab the first person you see and tell him about it. The language is deceptively simple. Barzak writes about the supernatural with fearless originality…One for Sorrow is ultimately a coming-of-age story, more melancholy than morbid and, by the end, profoundly hopeful. The writing is beautiful, honest and heartbreaking. Sometimes it takes a character infatuated with death to remind us why life matters.
The Washington Post
Death forges a supernatural bond between two lonely teenage boys in Barzak's well-intentioned and morbid first novel. Fifteen-year-old Adam McCormick is haunted by the earthbound ghost of his murdered classmate, Jamie Marks. Boy and ghost are drawn to one another by their shared outsider status at school, with the ghost providing support (and a surprising homoerotic romance subplot) for Adam as he survives a disastrous relationship with the sexually predatory Gracie (the classmate who discovered Jamie's body), a scary encounter with the ghost of a murderess and a troubled home life with his older brother and constantly arguing parents. Adam and Jamie's ghost eventually run away and find shelter in an abandoned church, where Adam is tempted to join Jamie, and Jamie delays moving to the next level in the afterlife. Barzak admirably defies convention by not having the two boys search for Jamie's killer, but the replacement plot-one of a bizarre coming-of-age-doesn't always meld well with the narrative's fantastical elements (closets, called dead space, are portals between worlds; ghosts burn memories to keep warm). The macabre tone won't work for readers looking for another Lovely Bones, but the novel's approach to familiar material is refreshing. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information