Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

I have read several of Kephart's non-fiction offerings lately but I had never read one of her YA books until I picked this one up. It was getting a lot of pre-publication buzz in the blogging world and I didn't want to miss the boat, nevermind that YA is not my usual bailiwick.

Katie's mother recently died of cancer, leaving her alone to grieve with her father, an art restorer. His method of grieving includes locking himself away with the latest painting he has to work on, leaving his daughter adrift and mourning by herself. Not wanting to be surrounded by people either, Katie has taken a summer job working on the gardening crew of a local estate, the owner of which is an elderly woman who has locked herself away from the world for years. As Katie tries to come to terms with the new normal of life without her mother, she works to uncover the mystery of why Miss Martine, who was once a debutante, has voluntarily locked herself away from the world for so many years. Her father's latest restoration project, two brothers on the gardening crew, and a glamourous librarian all help Katie in her quest for answers and also in healing her heart a little.

The writing here is quite lyrical, making obvious the fact that Kephart is first and foremost a poet. Her descriptors and phrasing are not of the common sort and she definitely draws pictures in the readers' minds. The characters are believable and sympathetic. Katie is always age appropriate and her reaction to the continued loss of her mother will tug at your heartstrings. Ultimately though, there's very little that occurs in this novel and I had to skim back through it in order to write this review. Some of this is because I read it so long ago and didn't write a review immediately but some of it is because the story just didn't stay with me, offering me no little moments that punched their way into the permanence of my brain. That's not to say this isn't a good book because it is and I think that YA readers, both young and old, will appreciate it. It's just that it lacked that little something more for me. Maybe one of you will find it in there instead though.


  1. I'm surprised this one didn't stick with you...I still have images of Katie looking through the box of stuff from the estate in the library and the little moments over the box with one of the boys.

    I really loved this book.

  2. Fomr the cover I never would have guessed this was YA.

  3. It sounds like the prose is lovely.

  4. This is one I'm very keen on reading, probably because it's close to home for me ... sorry you didnt find it more memorable.


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