When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn't an accident--that she supposedly jumped on purpose--she can't bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all.
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published May 21st 2013 by Chronicle Books
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Three and a half stars: A ghostly book with some important messages.
For Paige, it is another day amongst the sea of faces in the halls of her high school. Paige is unseen and unheard since she is a ghost. Paige accidentally slipped and fell off the school roof during a physics experiment. Instead of moving on, she is stuck in the high school, but she isn't alone. Brooke, the school slut, who died earlier in the year from a drug overdose and Evan, a boy who died some years ago, are trapped in the school as well. When a rumor starts circulating that Paige killed herself by jumping off the roof, Paige is determined to squash it and make sure the truth is known, even if that means possessing her classmates. Can Paige find her peace?
What I Liked:
- I loved that Absent was a quick read packed full of important messages. This little book in 180 pages, manages to tell an entertaining story while reminding the reader of some life truths, such as people aren't always what they seem so don't judge someone on outward appearances, suicide is never the answer, and words can be very hurtful, and don't accept someone who doesn't love you and appreciate you for who you are. I always enjoy reading books that remind me of the things that truly matter in life.
- I liked that this book was a rather simple ghost story without heavy emphasis on the why and how. There is very little discussion on the afterlife, and the author, in fact, doesn't present any of her own ideas on what might lay beyond. The ghosts are stuck in the school until they understand what is holding them back, and that is the basis for the entire plot.
- I appreciated that even though Paige, Brooke and Evan are ghosts, they can and do manage to show growth and change. It was enjoyable to watch them all come to terms with their deaths and move forward.
- I was especially pleased to find that the story shows us that you never know what is truly going on with someone until you walk in their shoes. Paige learns this firsthand as she learns to possess her fellow classmates. Paige can take over a body once someone thinks about her. The memorial mural in the hall of the school, ensures that plenty of people will be thinking of her allowing her numerous opportunities to borrow different bodies. I loved jumping into many different people. I was especially surprised to find that I actually felt sympathy for the pretty girl Kelsey. It was also refreshing to see the growth of some of the students left behind. I think aside from the three ghosts, my favorite character was Wes who was known as a burner since he smoked and was an outsider. He was charming, sweet and so kind.
- I loved the murder mystery. As the story unfolds it turns out there is more to the deaths of the two girls, and I liked the twist at the end that revealed what really happened.
- Finally, Evan's story was especially heartbreaking. He met a tragic end as he was never allowed to truly be himself. Suicide is never the answer.
And The Not So Much:
- While the ending is bittersweet it was also a bit open ended. I was left wanting just a bit more.
- Evan's story was so sad. I wished that there was just a bit more detail on what his life was like before his death. Was he bullied? Were is his parents unkind? What drove him to his final outcome?
- I wanted to know what happened with Harriet. Her story line is left hanging. Did she recover from her injuries? Was she okay afterwards? Did the other students stop bullying her.
Absent was a fast and emotional little read. I so appreciated the important message of never judging people based on appearances alone. The school slut, the loner and the pretty popular girl are all more than meets the eye. Life is too precious to waste on the small things. Live, love and enjoy the moment.
"I found church to be an unreliable source. I liked some of what they had to say. Other things, I didn't."
"People want to believe bad things, I tell myself, glaring around at my classmates. They want to believe the most shocking story. They see you as the worst version of yourself."
"And I wonder if this is what popularity really is, people waiting to hate you in the open."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.