The Year of Shadows

illus. by Karl Kwasny. 416p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442442948; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442442962. LC 2012034667.
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Olivia is furious. Her mother left her, she has no friends at school, her beloved grandma is becoming frail, and now her emotionally absent father's financial troubles mean that her family has to move into a ramshackle symphony hall and live backstage. Surly Olivia wants nothing to do with people at Emerson Hall, especially not Henry, a popular boy in her grade who works as an usher and wants to be her friend. However, when the ghosts of two children and two adults appear, they engage her and become her companions. Their presence also causes Olivia and Henry to become "strictly business" partners as they work together to help the ghosts to recover their "anchors" and "move on" into "the world of Death." They must also defeat the threatening shades that want to drag the ghosts into "Limbo." Their intense and dangerous project transforms Olivia and Henry's relationship, which turns into friendship and then something more. With the theater's existence in jeopardy and the stakes for the ghosts rising, Olivia finds herself having to face the terrible truth behind her mother's disappearance. The satisfying conclusion offers hope for the heroine's future. The characters are well drawn; the specters are particularly appealing. At its heart, this not-too-scary ghost story is about relationships and repairing the hurt that people cause one another.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Forced to live at a symphony hall while her maestro father pours money into keeping the orchestra afloat, Olivia helps ghosts move on to the afterlife while shades threaten to lure the ghosts to Limbo. A plot point involving Olivia's absent mother strains belief, but her growing friendships--human and ghost--plus a few spooky moments will keep readers engaged.

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