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The Girl with the Ghost Machine Hardcover – June 6, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—A month after her mother's sudden death, Emmaline Beaumont's father started building the ghost machine. At first, she hoped it would bring back her mother, and she even helped him collect parts to build it. But soon her father became more and more obsessed, isolating himself in the basement and no longer letting her near the machine, and it was as though Emmaline had lost both her parents. Two years later, Emmaline finally works up the courage to try to convince her father to give up the project, but to no avail. And so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Emmaline either has to figure out how to make the ghost machine work or destroy it completely. Although the author does work supernatural elements into the narrative, this is a quiet, slow-paced tale, offering less adventure in favor of a more meaningful exploration of deeper themes of death, loss, love, and friendship. Emmaline does, in fact, learn how to summon ghosts, including the ghost of her mother, but also discovers that doing so requires sacrificing a memory each time, and when a close friend dies later on, his twin brother makes a very different choice about the machine. VERDICT This emotionally resonant ghost story has a refreshing focus on character motivation. Recommended for voracious and thoughtful readers looking for something a bit different.—Jessica Marie, Salem Public Library, OR
"DeStefano packs a lot of emotion into a tightly focused narrative--especially as Emmaline discovers what it means to lose a memory of a loved one--and offers a quiet approach to understanding different ways of grieving." - The Horn Book Magazine
"The relationships DeStefano builds between her characters are sweet and piercingly true." - Publishers Weekly
"This eerie book is perfect for readers looking for something atmospheric, thought-provoking, and out of the ordinary." - Booklist
"A quiet, contemplative novel about loss, grieving, and the nature of memory . . . will especially appeal to fans of Bridge to Terabithia who are ready for a more sophisticated foray into questions of life and death." - BCCB
"DeStefano's lyrical writing flows with compassion and clarity . . . for thoughtful, curious readers, death must be touched and turned and examined. This book provides a close-up of loss, love, and hope." - Kirkus Reviews
"This emotionally resonant ghost story has a refreshing focus on character motivation. Recommended for voracious and thoughtful readers looking for something a bit different." - School Library Journal
"The plot, replete with buried bones, a terrible house of punishment for “problem” children, and more, will keep kids reading all night long (albeit with the lights on). DeStefano. . . . is no stranger to atmospheric middle-grade books, and is impressively amassing work that rivals that of older authors known for scary mysteries, such as Mary Downing Hahn and Zilpha Keatley Snyder." - starred review, Booklist on THE PECULIAR NIGHT OF THE BLUE HEART
"The idea that things that can be okay even if they’re not perfect is carefully and deeply explored, giving readers a chance to ponder this important concept. . . . Offer this to readers who appreciate ghost stories with plenty of character development." - BCCB on THE PECULIAR NIGHT OF THE BLUE HEART
"Spooky yet heartfelt." - School Library Connection on THE PECULIAR NIGHT OF THE BLUE HEART
"Readers will be hooked from the first line of this lyrical and suspenseful mystery/fantasy (part thriller too). . . . a moving and multilayered tale. . . . Love, loss, and hope are at the heart of this exciting read." - Kirkus Reviews on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
"The perfect book to hand to readers looking for the mysterious and spooky." - Booklist on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
"DeStefano creates a beguiling world through haunting images and descriptions. . . . An eerie, moving story." - Publishers Weekly on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
"Dark but often funny. . . . Fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones may well enjoy this creepy, character-based tale." - The Horn Book on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
"DeStefano’s vivid prose is both evocative and immersive. . . . Thematically haunting and skillfully executed." - BCCB on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
"I dare you not to fall in love with Pram, a young heroine who is as gutsy as she is compassionate. Lauren DeStefano has created a touching and unforgettable glimpse into the world of the spirits." - Ellen Potter, author of the Olivia Kidney series and THE HUMMING ROOM on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
"Anyone who’s ever wanted to unravel a family mystery with the help of two friends--one living and one dead--will be charmed by this tale and its plucky heroine, Pram." - Kate Klise, author of DYING TO MEET YOU on A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN
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Lauren DeStefano has created a beautiful and poignant story that I feel would be an important book for anyone to read who has recently (or not so recently) lost someone very close to them. DeStefano has a keen ability to cut to the quick of the emotions of loss and what that can feel like, especially for someone too young to have have lost a loved one. Her characters are not cliché and their feelings are quite real, and the story she has created feels honest and important. That's the best way I can describe it. A fan of her YA series The Chemical Garden Trilogy and The Interment Chronicles, I have not yet read her other two middle grade books, The Curious Tale of the In-Between and The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart, and I think I'll be needing to rectify that soon.
But I will say that I do wish it had been longer. It's so short, aw. Such little words on each page. I wanted to read so much more about all of these characters. But this small book was also just enough, because it was stunning. And I loved every word of it. Sigh. It was beyond heartbreaking and sad yet hopeful as well.
Since this book was very short, I'm not going to write too much about it. Just share some things that I loved a whole bunch. Eee. The writing in this book was stunning. And oh gosh, that cover is beautiful. I love it so much. And so so fitting with the story too. I only wish there had been artwork inside the book too. And that the book had been even longer. Aw. Because I loved it so. It's told mostly from the point of view of Emmaline, whom is twelve years old. But also a little bit from her dad and her closest friends. Oh, I really enjoyed getting to know Emmaline. She was so cute and kind and lovely. She lost her mom two years ago, and she's still grieving a lot for her. Her dad too. I loved reading about her mom, though. She seemed awesome. Wish she lived.
This book tells the story of a ghost machine. So not full reality. But so gorgeous. When her mom died, her dad started working on a machine that could bring her back to him. Which he has been working on for two years, without taking care of Emmaline. That part made me so sad. Because she deserved so much better. Hmph. Emmaline was simply awesome. And I loved reading about her. Thankfully, her dad did get better with time, and I grew to like him a bit. But he really should have taken better care of her. Not okay.
Emmaline is tired of her dad never being around, and so she tries to destroy the ghost machine, as it doesn't work. But instead she figures out how to make it work. And oh, it was a bit heartbreaking to read about. Yet really interesting too. There is a cost to using the machine, which was pretty sad, yet I'm glad was there. This book focus mostly on this machine, and stuff around that. And how Emmaline is missing her mom, yet she's moving on without her too. Oh, I just adored this little girl a whole lot. She's the best.
Some other characters I loved to pieces were her two best friends, Gully and Oliver. They are twins, and so adorable. I loved reading about their friendship, and I wish there had been even more about that. Aw. But what there is was enough too. I loved reading about things they had done together in the past, and things they are doing now. These three friends were adorable. But ahh. I'm not okay with what happens halfway into the book. It was so cruel. And the most heartbreaking. And I loved it so much, even so. Ack.
I'm so glad to finally have gotten to read this book. Eee. It was adorable and heartbreaking and so sad. It made me cry too. How rude. But I loved it so. You really need to read the middle grade books by Lauren. They are all stunning. So good. Just wishing they could all have been longer. Hmph. But I still loved them all so much. The Girl with the Ghost Machine was such a stunning story about loss and friendship and family. It was a bit short, yet so amazing. Heartbreaking but so good. I loved it lots. You must read it too.
This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books.
The Girl with the Ghost Machine is an interesting story about a grieving girl who lost her mother to illness, and who is afraid she is losing her father to a machine that he is trying to build to bring her mother back. It's completely original and touching in a lot of different ways, and the whole premise of the book was completely fantastic.
Emmaline lost her mother a few years ago, and her father started to build a big machine in the basement that would bring her back. He could never get it going or figure out how to make it work, but Emmaline hated it - it was taking up all of his time and not leaving any for her. So after begging him to stop building it and spend more time with her, only to be met with his insistence that he keep trying, Emmaline takes matters into her own hands one night.
When Emmaline decides to dump her cup of tea into the machine in an attempt to break it one night, what happens instead is something completely unexpected - she sees her mother's ghost and gets to spend some time with her. When she tells her friends about the experience, they demand to see - and try to bring back their goldfish and their dog. When Emmaline's father finds out what it can do, he is overjoyed - his machine works! But they slowly learn that it comes with a price - every time you place something that reminds you of the person you want to see into the machine, you lose a memory you had of that person.
Emmaline uses the machine to help her neighbors, and her father uses the machine to see Emmaline's mother a few times, but Emmaline isn't sure that she will ever want to use it again.
When tragedy strikes and one of Emmaline's friend's lives are on the line, Emmaline must decide if she should try and use the machine again if the worst happens. However, when the machine causes a rift between her and her other friend, she decides to stand up to her father and tell him that the machine is causing more harm than good.
The Girl with the Ghost Machine is one of the most creative middle grade books that I've come across. Admittedly, I haven't read any of Lauren DeStefano's other middle grade books, so this was a nice treat. Sometimes I just get in the mood for middle grade novels, and I was super excited to dive into this one, because it sounded like it was going to be something new.
This book is a book that combines love and loss along with a little bit of hope to weave together a tale that makes you look at life in a new light. It was beautifully written and really easy to get lost in - I read the book in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down.
The reason I gave this one four stars instead of five was because of the characters - to me they felt like they could have been a little more well rounded personality wise - I couldn't really connect with them. Emmaline's father just seemed so absent, and her friends weren't all that memorable. Emmaline's character did have a bit more in terms of personality, but I still would have liked to see more things that would have made her even more interesting.
Aside from the issues I had with the book's characters, I was absolutely in love with this. There is so much to think about after reading this book, and while reading it, and I know for a fact that I'm going to read this one again and again.
If you like middle grade, or are a fan of Lauren DeStefano's work, I highly recommend picking this one up and giving it a read!
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!