AT THE AGE OF 16 by Constanza Cousiño


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A teenage girl is torn between a ghost she loves and the living boy who loves her in Abarzúa’s (Secreto Mío, 2011) young-adult paranormal romance.

Sixteen-year-old Mía has inherited her grandmother’s ability to see spirits. This gift is mostly a nuisance until Andrés, the ghost of a handsome young man, makes himself visible to her. The two soon fall in love, but they’re frustrated by the fact that they cannot touch each other. When Andrés learns that he can take possession of a living person’s body, he suggests that he use Mía’s best friend, Javier. Mía initially rejects the idea. Andrés briefly takes over Javier anyway, and Mía is quickly swept up in their now “real” relationship. After a few romantic encounters, though, she begins to wonder if her feelings are truly for Andrés or for Javier. Meanwhile, members of Mía and Javier’s circle of friends experience more typical teen worries: body-image anxieties, drug use, coming out to parents and unrequited crushes. The love triangle is well-constructed: Mía and Javier’s friendship is sweet, and the evolution of their feelings feels natural. Meanwhile, mysterious “bad boy” Andrés makes for a good contrast to the steadfast Javier. Awkward dialogue and significant grammatical errors (incorrect verb tenses, missing sentence subjects), however, distract. Most of the characters are teens, but they speak in a stilted, formal manner that doesn’t fit their age; there’s no slang, and they rarely even use contractions. In addition, some close-but-not-correct word choices may cause confusion (“clubver” is used repeatedly, in a variety of contexts). Some of the characterization is quite uneven as well; the group of friends appears to be close, but when one goes missing, the rest don’t react with much alarm; another friend suffers a televised public humiliation, and all but one of the friends laugh at her.

May appeal to young-adult fans of supernatural romance, but the muddled language makes this a difficult read.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


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