Two friends stumble upon an abandoned cemetery in the woods behind their houses.
Best friends Iris and Daniel, both African American, are having a hard year. At school, Iris is struggling to get the recognition she craves as captain of the step team, and at home, her 4-year-old sister steals their parents’ attention. Daniel’s father is recently deceased, and he feels the need to be extra careful so his mom and grandmother don’t experience loss again. Brown’s portrayals of Iris’ angst and Daniel’s grief are deftly written and accessible for readers. Despite their challenges, the friends know they can count on each other, so when Iris begs Daniel to come outside in the middle of the night to experience the first snow, he ignores his grandmother’s superstitious warning about the spirits of the snow who prey on children and joins her. After a snowball fight in the woods, Iris makes a snow angel and realizes she is actually lying on top of a grave. The headstone reveals that the grave’s occupant is a girl named Avery, who was 12, just like them. After that first night, Avery haunts Iris, compelling Iris to return to her and right the wrongs that left her in limbo. The book struggles with pacing, but the historical information about school desegregation, segregated cemeteries, and the Great Migration are welcome, unique additions.
A ghostly tale with a historical twist. (Paranormal adventure. 10-12)