Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review: Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC
September 15, 2009
244 pages
Genre: Young Adult
4/5 Stars
Summary (Press Release)
Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over "breathers". Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable. They know the dirt on everybody...and Cass loves dirt. She's on a mission to explose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.
But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass's whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.
As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim's life, she's surprised to realize he's not so bad - and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it's time to give the living another chance...
My Thoughts
Give up the Ghost is a fantastic debut by author Megan Crewe. Cass has learned to use her gift to great effect. Having had a falling out with her best friend in the seventh grade and having become a social outcast, she is using her 'gift' to learn all sorts of incriminating evidence against her classmates and using that information to her advantage. While this novel can certainly be seen as a ghost novel, there is enough teen angst in this story to also be seen as a coming-of-age story. It is about fitting in and letting go of past grudges; realizing that revenge is not as sweet as one thinks. In order for Cassie to move into the future, she has to learn how to deal with her past hurts and angers or she will never be able to let go.
Over the years, Cass has developed friendships only with ghosts, especially the ones that haunt her local high school. While she gets along great with ghosts, she has lost the ability to deal with the living; she does not know how to form relationships and communicate normally with living people.
But then enters Tim, Student Council Vice President, who somehow manages to discover Cass's secret. He convinces her to help him communicate with his mother who has since passed away from cancer. Cass agrees reluctantly, making a deal with Tim to gather information from him that will help her with her plan for revenge on the one person she detests the most - her old friend Danielle.
Everything goes well at first, except that Cassie suddenly finds herself in a very strange position - she is learning to care for Tim and as she learns more about his problems, she is opening herself up to others for the first time in four years. Watching Tim struggle with his problems was heart-breaking and knowing that Cass had to break his trust in order to help him was painful. I certainly felt for Cassie when she had to make the choices she did and how difficult they must have been.
I found the novel to be wonderfully written, with characters that were easy to relate to, and contained clever and witty dialogue. I especially enjoyed the interaction between the ghosts and Cass, in particular the one 'special' ghost in Cassie's room. I found that Ms. Crewe dealt with all the themes (feelings of suicide, alcoholism, bullying, depression, anxiety) with compassion and feeling. While the novel has a light feel to it, there is certainly a darker element of being a teen within it.
My only concern with Give Up The Ghost is its ending. I found it to be unsatisfying, but I'm hoping the reason is the author is intending to continue the adventures of Cassie and Tim in future novels.


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