Thursday, October 13, 2022

Where the Lost Ones Go

Bowman, Akemi Dawn. Where the Lost Ones Go
October 11, 2022 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Eliot and her parents move from California to Maine after the death of her father's mother, whom she calls Babung. The parents claim they have wanted to move for a while, but Eliot considers it their attempt to forget her grandmother. Since Babung suffered from dementia and forgot Eliot, Eliot doesn't want to forget the one person who understood her. She's sure if she can learn more about ghosts, and perhaps even meet one, that she can find a way to reconnect with Babung and get a sense of closure. Her parents are busy with the new house, and her mother tries to rope neighborhood girls into hanging out with her, but that doesn't work well. When the girls point out a "creepy" house that might be haunted, Eliot is a bit interested in the haunted aspect of the residence, and also is tired of the girls and wants to show them she is not afraid. She takes their challenge to knock on the back door, and when a girl her own age answers, Eliot is so surprised that she falls off the porch into a strawberry bed. When she gets home covered in strawberries, her parents are disappointed that she trespassed and caused damage, and take her back to apologize to the elderly Mrs. Delvaux. This meeting ends with Eliot agreeing to help Mrs. Delvaux with the gardens and perhaps meet her granddaughter, Hazel. The work on the garden goes slowly, but when Eliot finds an old skeleton key, she finds that it takes her into a spirit world called the Hollow peopled by ghosts who are tethered to the house but have lost the memories they need to be freed. There is also a monster who seems eager to attack her. Eliot, with Hazel's occasional help, tries to find these memories. She researches at the public library and asks Mrs. Delvaux questions. She hopes that the ghosts can somehow connect her to Babung. Will she be able to solve the mysteries of Honeyfield Hall without being attacked by the monster, send the ghosts on their way, and find some peace about Babung's death and her family's move?
Strengths: Moving stories often involve a tween moving into a haunted house, so it was a nice twist to make it the home of an elderly neighbor that was haunted instead. I liked that Eliot was willing to work with her neighbor, learn some of the history of the area, and interact with Hazel. Hazel was an interesting character, and I knew her secret right away, but young readers might not. The ghosts all have interesting stories, and the identity of the "monster" provides a nice twist. There is a good resolution at the end. This is labeled as LGBTQIA+, but be aware that there is only the briefest mention of Eliot's feelings. 
Weaknesses: The author's young adult background is evident in the length of the book and the repeated discussion of Eliot's grief. 
What I really think: Eliot needs counseling desperately. I'm all for the parents wanting to not talk about the grandmother, but Eliot clearly needs to process things. This was more a book about grief than a ghost mystery, so I think I will pass on purchase. I can see this appealing to readers who want more young adult style angst instead of murderous ghosts. 

Ms. Yingling

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