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Giving Up the Ghost Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"Equal parts psychological realism and supernatural thriller, this story about living in the present and conquering fear has teen appeal in spades...Sinykin's simple, straightforward prose can be read by those as young as nine, but the subject matter-disease, death, arranged marriage and suicide-makes this title more appropriate for older readers. A good choice for reluctant teens." -Kirkus Reviews

"Recommended for ghost-loving young teens. It's a great book for reluctant older readers too, as Sinykin's storytelling style is clear and spare." -50 Plus Lifestyles

"...the book will draw some readers through its subject matter and will thereby connect them with a character seeking to understand her family, her place in a larger scheme of things, and her glimpse beyond the natural world." -School Library Journal

"More than a ghost story, this book serves as a guide for teenagers experiencing illness and death in their families...Sinykin successfully blends essential information about the process of dying with a fictional narrative that could be useful for teens facing similar circumstances in their lives." -VOYA

"...includes a realistic look at death and dying...Through the story, death may become less frightening for YA readers, and questions will arise from the realistic tone and informational passages." -Kliatt

About the Author

SHERI SINYKIN is the author of a several novels for young readers. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Vermont College, where she received an MFA in writing for children. She lives in Wisconsin and Arizona.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561454230
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561454235
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,547,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in Chicago, but grew up in Sacramento, CA. After I graduated from Stanford University, I worked in the Midwest as a newspaper reporter, a hospital PR director, and the assistant director of a convention and visitors bureau. I began writing books for children when my youngest son was born, and collected 156 rejections before my first book sale six years later. In the 1990s, I published seventeen books for young readers, including eight as lead author of the Magic Attic Club. After a long period of loss and writer's block, I earned my MFA in Writing for Children at Vermont College. My critical thesis was entitled "Good Grief: Making Death and Bereavement Authentic for Middle Grade Readers." GIVING UP THE GHOST (Peachtree, 2007) is the first published book of my "second career." It was inspired by my mother's eight-and-a-half-year battle with Stage 4B endometrial cancer, my own work as a hospice volunteer, and a love affair with New Orleans that began when our middle son attended Tulane. Those same events later inspired ZAYDE COMES TO LIVE (illustrated by Kristina Swarner, Peachtree, 2012), my first picture book. It deals with death and the afterlife from a uniquely Jewish perspective, while demonstrating respect for all religions. ZAYDE COMES TO LIVE won a 2013 Sydney Taylor Honor Book Award for Younger Readers and a Parents' Choice Recommended Award. I live in Massachusetts and in Arizona.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kbaccellia on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Death affects people in many different ways. Children also have a range of emotions when a loved one is facing a serious illness such as cancer. I still remember one of my former students drawing pictures of a large cross next to his mother right after she died. That was his way of coping. In the book GIVING UP THE GHOST, Sheri Sinykin weaves in the emotions of a young girl who's mother is in remission from cancer, going to help a great-aunt who is dying, and the ghost of a young girl. All these elements work to make a very compelling story.

Thirteen-year-old Davina is scared of many things. One of her biggest fears is that her mother's cancer will return.

That summer Davina and her parents go to help her elderly Aunt Mari with in-care home hospice care. This only increases Davina's fears. And to make matters worse is Emilie, the ghost of a 19th century young Creole girl who lives in her great-aunt's deserted plantation. Emilie wants Davia to be her friend. But Davina finds Emilie to be spoiled and unpredictable. While her aunt's health deteriorates, they both grow closer. Aunt Mari tells stories of sudden ends and regrets. Also she tells Davina she needs to help Emilie in order to release her spirit from Belle Foret.

I love how the author deals with death in this story. Especially with how a teen would feel about ovarian cancer. I felt the emotions of Davina were very realistic. Another thing I liked was how Davina wasn't afraid to be with her aunt even when she knew she'd die. Together they helped each other face their fears. Davina also learns a valuable lesson from Emilie, one that sets both of them free.

This story addresses a paranormal theme in a whole different light. I loved the premise of a haunted Louisiana plantation with secrets. I recommend this book to those who are looking for a paranormal story with a twist. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yvonne Perry on October 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Nearly every family has an eccentric member who seems odd to the rest of the clan. However, not many of us will be called to their bedside as a nursemaid when the individual is dying. That's what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Peters and their daughter Davia when they decided to care for Mrs. Peters' great-aunt Mari. Arriving in the humid, summer heat of a former southern plantation, Davia is surprised to find her relative living in a converted barn. Aunt Mari refuses to live in the big, haunted mansion on the vast estate. With her list of fears in hand, Davia and her family, including a self-righteous cat named GG, take up residence at Belle Foret.

Not only is the family expected to cater to the whims of an old woman who cannot be pleased, Davia is also expected to befriend Emilie, the ghost who haunts the grounds where she lived and died more than a hundred years before. Aunt Mari cannot "give up the ghost" and cross over in peace until Emilie does. However, the ghost has a secret that must come out in order to cross over and find peace in the afterlife. "Save me!" Davia must uncover the secret from the prankster spirit and help her forgive herself--a very tall order for two teenaged souls.

Davia is only fourteen, but mature for her age. She is not only dealing with the imminent death of her newly acquainted relative and the needs of a teenaged ghost, she is also coping with the aftermath of her mother's cancer treatment. Is her mom really in remission or is there something her parents aren't telling her? This book delves into the emotions of this brave, young girl and gives an example of how to deal with death by facing reality head on.

Sheri Sinykin did an excellent job with telling this story from Davia's point of view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Bryan on October 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Davia, a 13 year-old-girl from Wisconsin, has a lot on her plate. She fears her mother's cancer returning, her family goes to a spooky Louisiana plantation to care for Aunt Mari in her final days, and there's a ghost to deal with, too! And not an easy, peaceful ghost either. Emilie is a spoiled, difficult girl from the 19th century. Davia must somehow find the courage to discover Emilie's secrets so she can finally be freed from the plantation.

Davia's family, along with volunteers from Hospice, lovingly provide comfort during Aunt Mari's last days. A direct and gentle approach is used that has Davia facing her fears about death and befriending Aunt Mari, who even gives Davia guidance on how to deal with Emilie. Light humor throughout adds to this appealing story.

A suspenseful page turner, Giving Up The Ghost is perfect for those dealing with cancer, dying and Hospice, or anyone who loves a gripping ghost story! I highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Ernst on November 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sheri Sinykin has written a very important book--the book I wish I'd been given to read when, as a young adult, I experienced for the first time the death of a grandparent. On the surface, "Giving Up the Ghost" works just fine as a ghost story, and young readers will appreciate it as such. On a deeper level, however, it explores the fundamental questions all kids are confronted with when faced with the loss of a loved one: How do people die? What should I expect if I'm helping to care for someone who is terminally ill? What happens after someone dies? Although never didactic, the book provides some solid information. And finally, protagonist Davia and her family will impart reassurance to Sinykin's readers: that it's OK to ask questions, it's OK to be afraid, it's OK to let someone go, it's OK to forgive yourself and others. I found myself thinking about this book long after turning the last page.
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