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Nothing but Ghosts Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 23, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006166796X
  • ASIN: B003NHRA78
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,269,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–When her mother dies of cancer, 16-year-old Katie finds it painful to continue the patterns of her old life, so she makes the unexpected choice of taking a summer job in the gardens of the nearby estate belonging to reclusive Miss Martine. There she works under the caretaker with the other part-timers and stumbles upon a two-pronged mystery: Why are they digging so deeply near the river, and how does that relate to whatever sent the debutante Miss Martine out of society more than 50 years earlier? Katie's father, a brilliant art-restoration expert, contributes to the search for answers as he cleans an elaborate painting that he believes Miss Martine's father, a millionaire industrialist, created near the time of her seclusion. Research into some donated boxes of local lore at the library and assistance from the librarian and an intriguing boy who also works at the estate aid in her investigation. Meanwhile, Katie grieves: memories of a family spur-of-the-moment trip to Barcelona the summer before remind her of how her mother made an event out of everything and made her feel loved. Somehow it's easier for the teen to deal with Miss Martine's ghosts than with the aching absence of her mother. Nice writing and characterization can't quite compensate for a lack of suspense, a romance that never really gets off the ground, and a story that doesn't draw one in.–Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Grief and all its anguish is at the heart of this story. Reeling from her mother’s death, Katie, 16, takes a summer job on a nearby wealthy estate as part of a work crew constructing a gazebo. As she bonds with her fellow teen worker, Danny, she stumbles across secrets about the beautiful, rich recluse who lives in the big house. Why has wacky Miss Martine not been seen for over 50 years? Is the hole that they’re digging really for the gazebo? With the help of the glamorous town librarian (yes, glamorous), Katie and Danny research local lore in newspaper files and microfilm. The connections between solving the mystery and Katie’s bereavement struggle are sometimes overstated. Her first-person present-tense narrative is clear and lyrical, though,especially in her portrayal of her genius dad, an artist who asks, “How do you paint regret?” and in her discovery that “beauty and sadness can both live in one place.” Grades 8-11. --Hazel Rochman

More About the Author

Following the publication of five memoirs and FLOW, the autobiography of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River, I've had the great pleasure of turning my attention to young adult fiction. UNDERCOVER and HOUSE OF DANCE were both named a best of the year by Kirkus and Bank Street. NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, A HEART IS NOT A SIZE, and DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS were critically acclaimed. In October YOU ARE MY ONLY will be released by Egmont USA. Next summer, Philomel will release SMALL DAMAGES. I am at work on a prequel to DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, a novel for adults, and a memoir about teaching. Please visit my blog: http://beth-kephart.blogspot.com/

Customer Reviews

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The writing is beautifully lyrical -- transcendently so.
WordLily
Plus, I loved how she was such a strong character; one that could overcome loss and still be okay.
Lauren
The closest experience that I can relate to losing a parent is losing my grandparents.
Sara

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sara VINE VOICE on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nothing But Ghosts was absolutely beautiful. There was something so calming about this novel - I can't say that it was exciting necessarily; it is better described as engrossing.

The story unfolds so perfectly; I found the story to be compelling and engaging. There are two main plot lines in Ghosts: Katie's and that of the mysterious old woman Katie works for. Beth Kephart wove the two stories together perfectly to create just the right balance of past, present, and future.

I have never lost a parent, thank goodness, but I know many people my age that have. The closest experience that I can relate to losing a parent is losing my grandparents. Still, I could empathize with Katie's grief and confusion over the death of her mother; the disbelief that someone can be vibrant and full of life and then be gone forever. Even though my grandfather passed away a few months ago, I still forget that he is gone sometimes and when I remember and it hits me, I feel the pain of his loss all over again. I can only imagine that Katie, living in the house that she once shared with her mother, surrounded by her things, her room untouched, exactly the same as it was when she was living, and feeling distanced from her father, must feel. Kephart wrote this aspect of the novel particularly well.

I loved the mystery in this novel! Katie's quest to uncover the truth about the old woman who was a socialite in her youth, but has grown to be a recluse, was one of my favorite aspects of Nothing but Ghosts. I was amazed by the Kephart's skill as all the pieces of the puzzle slowly came together. I loved that I didn't figure out the secret until near the end of the novel, it is a bit anticlimatic when it is too easy to figure out the mystery.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DJLA531 VINE VOICE on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After the death of her mother, Katie takes a summer gardening job at the estate of town recluse Miss Martine who hasn't been seen outside since she was 16. Katie herself is burdened with grief, but she has to wonder what kind of tragedy would make you voluntarily disappear from life. With the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, Katie begins to decode the mystery and gain the strength to go on.

I admit, ever since the death of my own mother when I was 19, I tend to shy away from books where the mother is recently deceased or dying. I'm just always afraid they'll be too depressing, too sad to handle. But Beth has done a beautiful thing here - she takes us to the truth of what it's like to deal with loss (the too-big house that feels empty, the withdrawing from friends, the keeping busy to dull the pain) and then lets her characters (and her readers) find comfort and a renewed sense of purpose.

The story elements, the well-drawn characters (Katie's father, chic Ms. McDermott, and estate caretaker Old Olson were favorites), and spare, lyrical writing all contribute to making this a genuinely affecting reading experience. In fact, as far as books about grief go, I'd rate it up there with Kate DiCamillo's THE TIGER RISING.
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By M. Lamba on March 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This was an amazing book, and beyond lovely. From the size and layout of the text to the luminescent quality of the words, it felt special and like a privilege to read. Kephart's word choices are brilliant and all the while I was eager to return to this book, sit in a patch of sunshine and get lost.

Highly recommended to any book lover.
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Format: Hardcover
To label this as a novel about loss is a gross misrepresentation that does Beth Kephart's latest no justice at all. To think of it as another grieving daughter story or an issues book takes so much away from this multi-layered narrative. Nothing But Ghosts is as much a mystery about the town in which Katie D'Amore lives, the woman she works for but has never seen nor spoken to, her father's genius and the painting he's restoring, and the blossoming of new relationships as it is a mystery of personal loss. As Katie remembers her mother's final days, their trip to Barcelona before she was diagnosed, her childhood, spending time with friends before she began ignoring them (avoiding their questions about her mother), she is evolving. Where many young adult novels lay aside the adult characters to focus solely on the teens, Kephart has created a father for Katie who is as 3-dimensional as the hand in front of your face. The buildings are characters too - the library, the D'Amores' home, Miss Martine's estate - they all live and breathe life into a story that cannot be laid to rest even after you've turned the last page. I urge you: pick up this book, enjoy it.
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Format: Hardcover
Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart
HarperTeen, 2009
278 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: I had seen several titles by Kephart around the blogosphere so recently I decided to see what titles my library had. They had four and after reading the summaries of each, I decided that this one sounded the most interesting and so I checked it out.

Review: I was intrigued by this book because of the mention of a mystery. I love mysteries and love trying to puzzle them out even though I usually can't. The main mystery in this book is about a reclusive lady known as Miss Martine who has been shut up in her house for fifty years for no reason anyone knows. But another mystery is about disappearing. Miss Martine of course is well hidden but Katie's mom died leaving behind a grieving husband and daughter and other sections link too.

I didn't feel much of a connection with any of the characters. Katie is the main character, a young girl working in Miss Martine's garden for the summer who becomes intrigued by the mystery and is still missing her mother desperately. She seemed okay but maybe because both of my parents are still living, I had trouble identifying with her. Then there was her father, an art restorer and amateur chef par excellence who was interesting to read about but sometimes seemed to disappear too. I think my favorite character was Ms. McDermott, a glamorous librarian who wears the most beautiful clothes and has a broken heart. She sounded cool but didn't make the biggest impression.

Overall: Quick, quiet, lyrical read but not a favorite.

Cover: I guess the coloring links to ghosts but I don't really like it (that's why I chose based on plot summary, not cover). I do love the font for "Ghosts" though-I love curlicues!
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