Thursday, June 22, 2017
One for Sorrow
Annie struggles to speak up when Elsie's friendship proves to be too much. She is a jealous friend who won't let Annie talk to the other girls, and when Elsie invites herself over to Annie's house after school, her behavior is cruel and destructive. All of the adults, including Annie's parents, see Elsie as the victim of circumstances.
It takes an illness and absence from school for Annie to break away from her new "friend." While Elsie is gone, Annie makes friends with the most popular girls in school, and when Elsie returns, she joins in with the bullying.
As the Spanish flu rages through New England leaving mountains of bodies in its wake, the girls, led by Rosie, ramp up their bullying. They are taken aback when they learn that Elsie has died from the Spanish flu.
But Elsie refuses to stay buried. Annie rejected her in life, but in death, she can be anywhere and do anything she wants. She can take control of Annie's body and words, and she's not leaving. At first, Annie's parents are confused by her behavior, but they soon begin to wonder if she is mentally ill, and Annie is terrified they will lock her up in an asylum where she really will be trapped alone with Elsie forever.
Mary Downing Hahn's newest ghost story is a perfect blend of historical fiction and supernatural thriller. Be aware that the bullying in this book is intense, and the girls on both sides are pretty awful. Kids will come for the ghost story, but they will also be hooked by the relatable social dynamics and the real life horror of the Spanish flu epidemic. Recommended!