GHOST LETTERS by Stephen Alter


Age Range: 10 - 14
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Tea leaves say that seventh-grader Gilbert Mendelson-Finch will be a messenger of peace, save a life and hold the key of love, a tall order for a boy recently expelled from his boarding school. Temporarily staying with his grandfather in a 19th-century house built by Ezekiel Finch, an ancestor who left Massachusetts with a broken heart to grow tea in India, Gil encounters a ghostly postman who delivers dead letters, a severed hand that cares about penmanship and a genie encoded in stanzas of poetry. Halfway around the world and more than 100 years earlier, Sikander Khan, calligrapher’s apprentice in the princely state where Finch had his plantation, worries about an impending war and the kidnapping of his best friend. The two boys connect through a message-carrying bottle. Alternating between centuries, Alter weaves these disparate elements into an unusual and suspenseful ghost story. Disconcertingly, the 19th-century events are described in the present tense, and luckily Gil’s tampering with history has no untoward results. A satisfying read for those who can suspend disbelief. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-582324-739-4
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2007