Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Heart You, You Haunt Me

I wish this book had a better title. I Heart You, You Haunt Me? I mean, seriously? With a title like that, the potential reader can’t be blamed for thinking this book might be a light-hearted, supernatural romance. Actually it’s a much more serious book about how a teenage girl handles the grief of her boyfriend’s unexpected death. Told in a series of free verse poems, the book opens with Ava attending her boyfriend Jackson’s funeral. Understandably, Ava is depressed, and she sinks further in depression, withdrawing from her friends and family, as the book progresses. Though the reader does not learn why until about the middle half of the book, Ava feels responsible for Jackson’s death. When his ghost begins appearing—only Ava is able to see him—both in glimpses in the mirror and then in her dreams where they can hold one another again, Ava feels relieved that he isn’t gone from her life forever. But over time, the haunting begins to feel less like a blessing and more like a curse. And Ava still can’t let go of her guilt. . .

This is a fast read. Some of the poems are more effective than others, but mostly they work together to draw the reader into the story. The first half of the book got a little repetitive for me, as though the author was stuck in a series of “Ava-is-really-sad” poems that dragged the pace down, but the book picks up for the reader willing to hang in there. All of the poems are from Ava’s point of view, which was a nice switch from many novels-in-verse which tend to rely on ever-shifting perspectives to tell the complete story. Since this book is about Ava’s guilt and grief, it only seems right that she narrate it. The ending was satisfying though I felt like I was getting a few pat lessons about living life to the fullest, which I could have done without. Thankfully, the lesson learned portion was pretty light-handed and didn’t spoil the whole thing. A quick read with a slight supernatural touch, this book is really about how a person deals with personal tragedy.

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