The Girl with the Ghost Machine, Paranormal by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a story about loss, grief, and the damaging effects of failure to accept death. Emmaline’s mother died when she was young, and she was left to move on with no support from her father because he basically abandoned her to build a machine to summon ghosts and give them form. Luckily for Emmaline, she had her childhood friends the twins Gully and Oliver to sustain her. However, she was essentially orphaned, and she seems to know it, if not consciously.
Even if the machine had never worked, I think there could have been plenty of discussion of the themes. Obviously it would have been far more difficult and wouldn’t have all of the science fiction and almost occulty appeal, but I do feel like it could have been done. The basic question of the entire book is this: “Should you trade a lifetime of memories for a brief period of being with a deceased loved one again?”
The answer is not an easy one to come to, although of course since the majority of the characters are children, they each come to their own answers swiftly. Any reader answer to the question is pretty much justified, which surprised me.
I was impressed to see such a heavy topic covered so well in such a short book. It’s sympathetic and respectful, never stooping to coddle or pretend that death is not a big deal or conversely, such a big deal that it can’t be broached. The writing style has some poetic moments, but it’s mostly a clean and simple vehicle for the story. Bravo, I say.