JONAH SEES GHOSTS by Mark Sullivan


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A grief-stricken teenager strenuously attempts to put to rest the ghost of his dead father—literally.

As childhood traumas go, the death of a father has to be near the top of the list. On Jonah Hart’s sixth birthday, his father drank too many martinis at lunch, drove his Porsche off the road, and decapitated himself going through the windshield. For Jonah, now 15, the years since have gone by in a blur. Ostensibly a normal ninth-grader, Jonah hangs out with best friend Ross, has a crush on classmate Sara, and is as bored as any nine-grader with the routines of school and homework. But Jonah has one big difference from his peers: He sees ghosts. Like, lots of them, practically everywhere (they especially like to hang out at the hardware store for some reason). It began at his father’s funeral, when Dad appeared (sitting beside his embalmed corpse) during the eulogy. Since then, Jonah has seen and talked to his father many times—in addition to others. There is the dead janitor at school who runs after Jonah in the hallways shouting obscenities at him, and the silent woman with the bullet-hole in her forehead who appeared at the swimming hole one day. The worst are the two old ladies who’ve camped out in the family’s living room, brandishing guns and making lewd gestures whenever Jonah has Sara or Ross over. Eventually, Jonah’s behavior is noticed and he’s is referred to a psychiatrist, but from newcomer Sullivan’s description this doesn’t look like a mental problem so much as an extended and very literal bout of mourning. When Jonah’s mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, he faces a new crisis, one that finally leads him to ask whether he’s being haunted by the dead or they’re being held by him. From what his father tells him, Jonah believes that the dead can find peace. Can the living?

A trifle precious in its sentiments but animated by a real sincerity and freshness of outlook.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-888451-04-1
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003


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