A teen must face her own trauma even as she helps her dead friends find peace in Barzak’s (Wonders of the Invisible World, 2015, etc.) latest.
A fight with her boyfriend, Noah, about his friendship with a lonely girl ruins Ellie Frame’s day but, to her horror, also saves her life. After she drives away to nurse her anger, a series of tornadoes devastates her Midwestern town, hurtling a gas tanker into the high school and killing Ellie’s closest friends—and Noah. Survivor guilt plagues Ellie as she tries desperately to move forward as if all is well, a task made infinitely more difficult as the ghosts of her friends begin to appear and speak to her. Alternating between Ellie’s perspective and those of others in her community—survivors and ghosts alike—this narrative of testimony and bearing witness has an immediacy that draws readers in despite sometimes descending into oration with more telling than showing. It explores the functions of storytelling in helping the living cope and the dead reflect on events from the afterlife. The mystery of what is keeping the spirits from their final rest and the looming threat of ghosts with scores to settle create an absorbing read. All characters are white other than Ellie’s Latina therapist and Japanese-American friend.
A Stranger Things–Twister mash-up for fans of (super)natural thrills. (Thriller. 14-17)