With a deft hand, de Gramont easily convinces the most skeptical of readers that the depth of Tressa’s and her boyfriend Luke’s emotions can enable a few fleeting, and frustratingly incomplete, moments of connection for them during the year following his tragic death.
One of this riveting novel’s most astonishing qualities is that it features a spectral character but avoids the clichés of many modern paranormal romances; it is instead a largely realistic tale of grief and healing. Rather than offering impossible hopes for a continued post-death romance, the imperfections of Tressa and Luke’s phantom connection—they can neither speak about the present nor feel each other’s touches—is a continual painful reminder of all that they have lost. And while Luke’s visits are a testament to their profound love, they are also an agonizingly slow goodbye and a hesitant step toward moving through their shared grief. De Gramont torments readers with flashbacks similar to Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road (2008), in which the knowledge that a character’s death is inevitable heightens, rather than assuages, readers’ dread as Luke’s final doomed moments are slowly revealed. The novel should come with a disclaimer that readers who are shy about public sobbing should avoid cracking this one open on public transportation, in waiting rooms or during classroom silent sustained reading times.
A must-read. (Fiction. 12 & up)