Everything changes for 13-year-old Danny when older brother Jake leaves for college.
Danny sleeps in a converted closet in a two-bedroom apartment in an old brownstone in Brooklyn. He has long been promised Jake’s room, but the promise is broken when his parents decide to host tourists to supplement their limited income. There are computer problems and disappearing digital photos, easily accepted as odd glitches by his parents. Danny experiences cold drafts, strange voices, faces at the window, mirror writing, humming, and glowing lights. Visitors appear to be possessed by a grieving young woman who demands to know the whereabouts of her little boy. His parents don’t believe him, assuming he’s dreaming. When Danny tells his best friends, Gus and Nat, they treat it all lightly at first. But his bubbe Ruth and his friends’ grandfathers are more willing to listen, telling him of dybbuks, ghouls, local ghosts, and more. The friends get to work researching ghosts and the history of Danny’s building, finally finding some answers. Danny speaks directly to readers, always with a light touch, making his fearsome experiences even eerier. He intersperses the narration with admiring, insightful descriptions of his robustly diverse Brooklyn community, amusing translations of his Bubbe’s Yiddish expressions, and hilarious chapter headings. Danny and his family are Jewish, Nat is Arab Christian, and Gus is white.
The tale is gently scary with plenty of fun and a sweet conclusion, and its protagonist is absolutely delightful. (Fiction. 9-13)