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A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT by Laura Whitcomb

A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT

By Laura Whitcomb

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2005
ISBN: 0-618-58532-X
Publisher: Graphia

What should be a sure-fire ghost story/romance fails to ignite a spark. Helen is a spirit that cleaves to hosts, unsure of why she’s bound to earth. She picks very literary hosts (including Emily Dickinson), such as her current high-school English teacher. It is at school that Helen is “seen” for the first time, by teenager Billy Blake. Turns out Billy is actually “James”—another spirit who’s figured out how to inhabit a body. He and Helen fall in love, and he convinces her to find a body so that they can have sex (semi-graphically depicted, and somehow also coldly so). Their hosts both have troubled homes (one drugs, the other religion, both with messed-up parents), leading to a predictable close. Unsurprising plot, under-developed characters and adequate prose doom this first novel. The love story, and the device of a spirit gaining flesh, should be emotionally rich fodder, yet Whitcomb takes these nowhere. Young women will be drawn to this book, and will probably finish it, but unless the collection needs another forgettable easy-sell, skip it. (Fiction. YA)