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Ghostgirl    by Tonya Hurley order for
by Tonya Hurley
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

When I received Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley, I was very impressed with the cover. It is a black, hardbound cover with pink and silver flower accents, which are very pretty. In the center of the front cover is a coffin-shaped cutout filled with see-through film and a silhouette of a girl with a pink banner across it that reads, Rest in Peace. To top it off, the edges of the pages are silver. This motif continues inside with pink and black flower borders on all pages, and silhouettes on chapter title pages, which also have quotes related to the upcoming chapter. Prefacing each chapter is a page with advice and how it relates to the main character.

While I was very impressed with the look of Ghostgirl, I was less impressed with the actual story. The main character, Charlotte Usher, has always wanted to be popular, mainly so she could catch the eye of her football-hero crush Damen. Unfortunately, she has always been practically invisible to everyone at Hawthorn High. Over the summer, she goes to great lengths to change her image and even arrange her class schedule to be the same as Damen's. Things are looking up when, during first period, Damen is assigned as her lab partner in Physics, and Charlotte is asked to be his tutor. Elated but nervous, Charlotte begins popping gummy bears, chokes on one, and dies.

She is shortly summoned to the school wing where the other dead students have classes while they try to deal with their unresolved issues. Charlotte, though, is not ready to give up on life, and gets Damen's girlfriend's goth little sister Scarlet to agree to let Charlotte possess her. Through Scarlet, Charlotte tries to get close to Damen as the annual Fall Ball looms on the horizon. However, the dead kids have problems of their own, and until Charlotte stops living and starts dying, there may be no hope for any of them.

The main problem I had with the Ghostgirl story is with its inconsistencies. First, it is unclear how long Charlotte has been dead before she meets the other dead students and Scarlet is asked to write her obituary. The dialogue makes it sound like the next day, but later on in the story, it turns out to be the same day. Also, the main characters' ages are never mentioned. I could tell they were not freshman because Charlotte had already been attending Hawthorn High. The fact that some were taking Driver's Ed and some could drive, made me think they were sophomores. However, it is mentioned towards the end that Charlotte has been taking pictures of Dylan for the last two years, which means she has to at least be a junior. But then the cheerleaders in Charlotte's class had been on the squad for four years, so that means senior.

The reason this gave me so much trouble is because high schoolers act different as they go through school, and Charlotte's behavior ranged through an awful lot of ages. Also the plot seemed to meander sometimes with no real direction; ideas and characters that seemed important would be introduced but disappear shortly thereafter, some never to be mentioned again. Finally, the resolution just did not make sense.

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