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Marly's Ghost Paperback – October 18, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10–In this modified version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Scrooge has been replaced by Ben, a high school student whose girlfriend has passed away, leaving him extremely cynical about love as Valentine's Day approaches. The creatively mutated story follows the basic action of the original as the teen is visited by Marly's ghost, then three spirits: The Ghost of Love Past, The Ghost of Love Present, and…well, you know. While this seems like a promisingly inventive way to address bereavement, nothing quite clicks in this remix of the classic. Prior knowledge of the original story seems to diminish rather than enhance the power of this adaptation. There are downright awkward moments, too. The character Tiny Tim has morphed into a pair of gay freshmen, Tiny and Tim, for example, and the young lovers' presence in the story seems gratuitous and synthetic. Selznick's pen-and-ink drawings, while very well done, don't quite seem to fit in either, reflecting the overall problem the story has establishing and sustaining a uniform tone and mood.–Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. "Love is humbug," rages teenager Ben in this sober, contemporary remix of Dickens'A Christmas Carol. Ben's beloved girlfriend, Marly, has died of cancer, and, as his town and high school celebrate Valentine's Day, he tries to cope with his raging grief. Levithan's heartbreaking narrative, illustrated with occasional small, crosshatched drawings, relates how Marly's ghost comes to Ben with three other spirits that take Ben first to the past he cannot forget (his first sight of Marly, their first kiss, their passionate embrace), then to his present sorrow (when, like Scrooge, he lashes out at everyone), and finally to the possible future (when he commits suicide--unless he can stop himself). The future vignette is the only point where the message gets heavy. The magical realism is powerful throughout, especially in the love story, and Levithan (who wrote Boy Meets Boy, 2003) also touches on gay relationships when dealing with the annual Valentine love fest enjoyed by the town and Ben's high school. A solid story to mark the holiday. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (October 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014240912X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142409121
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Sixteen-year-old Ebeneezer "Ben" Scrooge, was always a die-hard Valentine's Day fan. Bringing his girlfriend, Marly, flowers and chocolates. But all that changes when Marly dies from a brain tumor. After three-years together, Ben doesn't feel that he can go on, and is angered by the fact that everyone around him is living their life as if nothing tragic has happened. What angers him even more is Valentine's Day. Suddenly, Ben wonders how a stupid, commercialized holiday can mean so much to people. So he boycotts it. But Marly's spirit obviously isn't going to allow Ben to ruin this holiday, or go on living angry. For on the eve of Valentine's Day, Marly's ghost arrives, bringing along several other ghosts that will haunt him within a 24-hour period - the Ghost of Love Past, the Ghost of Love Present, and the Ghost of Love Future - that will show Ben that the way he's been acting is doing nothing more than dishonoring Marly's memory, and making him...a scrooge.

Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL has been one of my favorite books since I was very young. So when I heard about David Levithan's MARLY'S GHOST, I didn't think that it could compare. I was wrong. Levithan's MARLY'S GHOST is a wonderful "remix" of the story A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and easily brings Dickens' ideas into a modern day scene that will leave readers enchanted. The storyline is sad - as is A CHRISTMAS CAROL - and the descriptions of Marly's sickness bring to mind scenes from Nicholas Sparks' A WALK TO REMEMBER, yet end on a happy note - as did Sparks' effort. Levithan has created characters that embody updated versions of all of Dickens' previous characters, even including a modern day Tiny Tim - that is actually two gay freshman named Tiny and Tim.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not really that big a fan of Charles Dickens, but I am a huge fan of David Levithan and Brian Selznick. I was expecting a modernization of A Christmas Carol with a twist and the amazing dialogue and true-to-life characters that I expect from Levinthan. What I didn't expect was the cheesy nearly word-for-word retelling of a book I never really liked in the first place.

It should really come as no surprise that Marly is dead, the victim of a cancer that claims the lives of far too many people at far too young an age. In the beginning, the book started off strong with the heart-felt longing Ben has for his lost girlfriend and the pain it has caused not only for Ben but also for those who love him the most.

Yet, as the story continues with the appearance of Marly and the three other ghosts--the Spirits of Love Past, Present and Future--the story goes from heartbreaking to overkill. Instead of letting a natural flow come from a great beginning, Levithan forces his characters to fit into the neat little mold that Dickens had created more than a hundred years before.

While the end looked like it was about to take a turn for the better and have a more modern application of the timeless moral the original story outlined, the characters were again restricted by the near verbatim retelling. (I'm afraid if I say more on this, I will give away the ending.)

I know this review sounds harsh, but the book really wasn't that bad of a read. The story really does teach a good lesson about learning from the past while still living for the future, and that love really can pull us through some pretty awful things.
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Format: Paperback
I was quite disappointed with this book. I really expected something extraordinary with a Selznick and Levithan collaboration of a Dicken's classic, but what I got was a flimsy and unexciting interpretation of A Christmas Carol, with what looked to me as very ordinary illustrations.

Swap Christmas with Valentine's and you have a very lazy edition of the magical original. I did not think this was a creative effort of the story, and it didn't feel like Levithan tried very hard to make it his own. I was unimpressed with the storyline he chose to go with of a young man embittered after losing his girlfriend Marly to cancer and being visited with three ghosts of the past, present and future to bring hope and positivity back into his life. I was really unimpressed to find that the boy's name at the end was actually Ebenezer Scrooge, but goes by Ben.

I'm giving this three stars because I do love Charles Dicken's and A Christmas Carol is one of my favourites, and while this wasn't a creative interpretation in my opinion, it is still an OK book and an OK story and was a quick, enjoyable read. However, my criticism of it is based on the comparison between the classic tale and this one.
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Format: Hardcover
"I repeated it now- I love you. I love you. Please. I love you. Then it came- that one small gasp. We waited for the next one, but there was no next one. You expect death to bring some new form of punctuation, but there it is: one small gasp. Period."

Ben is a 16 year old man grieving the loss of his first love, Marly, a woman who died from cancer. He was with her until the end, and those moments leading up to her death still haunt him, so much so that he feel that he can't go on with her months after her death. His loss wells to such an intensity it causes him to lash out to his family, friends, and even strangers with heated animosity. On the day before Valentine's day he even tells off a couple by the names of Tiny and Tim (the school's only gay couple) proclaiming that love is pointless and other such nonsense. It is obvious that his depression has taken a toll on him.

That evening in a moment of sheer loneliness he is visited by the ghost of Marly, who tells him his ties on him are weighing her down in the afterlife and that he has to move on. He admits he wants to die, so she tells him that he will be visited by three ghosts over the next few nights... if the story sounds familiar that's because it is a retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"... only set in contemporary times and with a Valentine's day theme instead.

It is true that Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol", but to me it feels as if it were meant purely as a study for David Levithan to use to pen this book. Now, I freely admit I have never been the biggest fan of Dickens' style of writing but I have read "A Christmas Carol" (in class, I wouldn't have finished it had I not been forced to). So I do know the story.
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