“The Girl With The Ghost Machine” by: Lauren DeStefano
Originally I will admit I judged this book by the cover. (I referenced this work on my YouTube channel as an upcoming book I would be reading from a video posted on 4/15/17.)
The story itself however, drew me in and was a page turner/quick read.
The subject matter right from the beginning is heavy and very well handled by the author. Emmaline is the main character whose Mom has passed away when she is ten. Her father becomes consumed for over two years with building a machine to bring the Mom back. As a ghost at least.
Her father becomes so consumed by chasing after the idea of bringing back the essence that he becomes like a living ghost himself. Emmaline rarely gets to see or spend tie with her father and feels abandoned and like she has lost both parents.
Emmaline stumbles on a way to make the machine work out of frustration and does indeed call her Mother’s ghost. The memory gets fuzzy and then she can’t recall that memory at all anymore.
Emmaline’s two friends-a set of twins-listen to her story and Oliver (one of the twins) brings along an item to throw into the machine to trigger the manifestation of their beloved and deceased dog. Gully feels deceived that his brother went behind his back this way and even sadder at freshening the memory, at reigniting the ghost.
The memory fades from existence once the ghost has been called. So to call a ghost means you are giving up a memory of time spent with that person or animal.
After her father discovers that she has made the machine work, he has his own time with Emmaline’s Mom and we discover later that her ghost chastised him for not taking better care of their daughter and for neglecting her.
A neighbor sees the machine work and convinces Emmaline to let her and her sister use the machine to call forth their long deceased brother. Oliver and Gully tag along to make sure everything goes okay unbeknownst to the father.
The implications of the machine use and misuse are explored, the grieving process is handled here delicately, and the ethics/morality of recalling someone who has gone on are also explored.
These heavy issues are fictionalized in a compelling way.
I will not get into the extra emotional twist part, know you know there is one, but you don’t know what it is though….I will only say that I know many reviewers found themselves in tears. It was sad yes, but I didn’t cry reading it. That isn’t to say I am judging those that do, just that you may not cry reading it. So don’t let that deter you from reading this because it is an excellent story. The epilogue I found to be a happy one not a sad one. It was almost bittersweet in my opinion.
6.0% “Detailed and I can tell this is going to be a heavy/sad book already…”
12.0%“The metaphor is strong in this one. The loss that a parent feels when their person has passed away and the grief they go though are explored here. The denial of accepting that loss can carry on for years. The daughter here loses both her parents. One dead and one basically living dead. The project is like an outlet for that pain and something to focus on. Sad.”
23.0%“The memories making the machine work but then once the moment is done the memory is too…oh wow…”
39.0%“The way this book is handling the subject matter is very caring and beautiful. I think this will help middle school age children deal with loss…”
60.0%“Seeing the ghost again and then that time is gone being like losing the person all over again….yeah. This book takes some very deep subject matter and makes it a bit lighter and about morality to show that everyone loses someone. Everyone grieves. No one can really avoid it. Even if you haven’t personally lost someone, you may have lost a pet, or you know someone who did lose someone close to them.”