Life takes a supernatural twist when the 150-year-old ghost of an African-American slave follows a family home to Los Angeles.
When Soeder and his family attend his brother-in-law’s wedding at a former plantation home near New Orleans, he encounters more than the usual festivities. Staying in a cottage that was once slave quarters, Soeder comes in contact with the irrepressible Haddie—the 150-year-old ghost of an African-American slave who has haunted the cottage since her death. Haddie can speak to Soeder and read his thoughts, and she promptly makes her opinions felt. Her ability to ice a room, literally, with her disapproval leads to many amusing moments, as do her nonstop questions about a world that she cannot physically touch. Although it may read like fiction, this is, according to the author, a true account. No one else can see or hear Haddie, including Soeder’s wife, Nadine, who accepts this supernatural visitor and seems remarkably unalarmed when Haddie follows the couple and their two young children home to Los Angeles. There, Haddie takes up residence with the family, sleeping in the couple’s closet and caring for their children—which essentially involves putting thoughts in their minds that persuade them to behave. Much of the book follows Haddie’s gleeful discovery of modern technology, from airplanes and alarm clocks to cars and computers. But there are also darker moments, as when she recalls the horrors of slavery and observes the ways in which the world has “grown both better and worse.” Haddie brings a fresh perspective to Soeder’s life, raising intriguing questions about the meaning of life and death. And yet it’s never clear how or why the author feels so at ease with this otherworldly turn of events. His lack of skepticism might make more sense if presented within the context of his previous experiences with the supernatural, described in his other works but only briefly mentioned here. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, this is a charmingly quirky ghost story.
Touching and funny, this paranormal Mary Poppins story requires a big leap of faith.