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Notes from Ghost Town Hardcover – February 12, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9-11-Sixteen-year-old Olivia's best friend, Stern, is murdered, and her mother confesses to the crime. Her mother had never been well balanced, and her refusal to stay on her meds led to increasing mental instability. Unable to cope, Olivia's father filed for divorce. And just a week before Stern's death, Olivia's sight started faltering, all color bleaching out of her world. She is afraid that her graying vision is just the first sign of impending, inherited schizophrenia. With the boy she secretly loved dead, her father remarrying, and her mother in prison awaiting sentencing, Olivia struggles to make it through each day. When Stern's ghost shows up to save her from drowning, she wonders if it is another sign of her oncoming madness or if the visitation is real. If it is truly appearing, what could be causing his spirit's unrest? This tightly plotted novel is both heartfelt and suspenseful. Olivia mourns not only the loss of her best friend/romantic interest, but also the life she once knew. She feels as if her parents, home, friends, and even her artistic talent have all deserted her in one way or another. Ellison portrays Olivia sympathetically yet realistically, creating a believable character in an extreme situation. This book will find many readers, among them fans of Sarah Dessen's works and Jennifer R. Hubbard's The Secret Year (Viking, 2010).-Heather E. Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, ALα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Since they were kids, Olivia and Stern have been best friends. A talented pianist, Stern was going to set the world on fire with his playing, but then he is found dead on the beach, and Olivia’s mother, a diagnosed schizophrenic, is charged with his murder. Olivia worries that she could be suffering from the same disease, especially when she begins to regularly see and talk with the ghost of Stern, who prompts her to look more closely at the circumstances surrounding his murder. With her mother’s sentencing just days away, Olivia is in a race against time to unravel the mystery behind Stern’s death. Ellison has crafted an intriguing, well-paced mystery with just enough clues to give savvy readers a chance to puzzle out the truth and a thread of romance that will help hook teens until the very last page. Grades 9-12. --Gaus, Eve

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606842641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606842645
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,104,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't know whether to classify Notes From Ghost Town as a paranormal romance or a psychological thriller. Maybe it is a little of both. I could never figure out if Stern's ghost was really there or if he was just a figment of Olivia's fragile mind. The mind is an amazing muscle with the power to produce the unbelievable. If you don't believe in ghosts you would probably see Notes From Ghost Town as a murder mystery told from the point of view of a girl on the verge of losing her mind. Either from grief and despair or from the hereditary traits passed on by schizophrenic mother.

However, if you are open to the paranormal then maybe Olivia isn't losing her sanity at all. Maybe Lucas really is trapped in the in between with unfinished business. Perhaps souls really can not pass on until they are truly settled with the way their lives have gone.

What you take from Notes From Ghost Town is up to you. Ellison doesn't give you a clear definition as to what Olivia is experiencing. I small touch of brilliance on Ellison's part I think. I love that she left this aspect of the story open for readers to come to their own conclusion. It's not as if there is a huge question left unanswered, just something slightly ajar as to open thought and contemplation.

Olivia herself was not a huge favorite of mine. I had a hard time liking her, I think because I had a hard time understanding who she is. She was unpredictable but not enough to make me think that it was on purpose. I would have understood her as a rash girl if it was being played up as part of her losing her mind. Unfortunately, that isn't the impression I got. Instead I felt like Ellison herself was unsure of who Olivia really is.

The mystery behind Lucas' death was only partly predictable.
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Format: Paperback
Sigh...I got this book a bit ago and finally got to it. I was excited and heard a few good things about it, but once I started the book, the excitement faded.

First off Olivia and Stern are friends and end up flirting. Lucas then runs off and Olivia continued packing to go off to school. Next thing you know, Lucas is dead and her mum kill him. Then it jumps into Olivia at an appointment, her dad with a new girl and family, and she is living with him. She is then getting ready for the party and then heads off to a beach with a guy. While hiding from the cops, the waves drag her under and the person who saves her is Lucas.

Okay so he came back from the dead. At this point I would have loved some more info on how he was killed and why they think Olivia's mum is the murderer.

Eventually my interest returned and I got hopeful the book was going to turn out good. Stern keeps popping up and Olivia finally listens to him and we learn about whats going on with Stern, his murder and finding out the true killer. If it wasn't for Stern saying that Olivia's mum wasn't the killer, she might not have even tried. She didn't think Stern was real, that she was just going crazy. Which would just have been great on top of her color blindness. But, it had to be that love she had for him, that love that gave her the little push she needed to stand up and talk to Stern like he was there. Otherwise, the book would have taken a different turn. And if it did end up going that way, I probably wouldn't have finished the book.

So overall I did manage to finish the book, and after six chapters I was thinking if I should even go on anymore. I'm glad I went on a bit more and ended up enjoying the story a little more than I thought. However, I did still have issues I couldn't get over.
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Format: Hardcover
It's been a while since a book gently ripped my heart out and then handed it back to me saying, "life is short, live your life the best you can... as much as you can." The heartache throughout the story was so bittersweet...

Olivia was packing for art school when her life got turned upside down - her best friend kisses her and in that same moment, she goes colorblind... and then a few months later, Lucas is dead. And everyone says that her mother killed him.
Olivia struggles to grieve her losses - having to leave art school and return to a new home with her dad, his girlfriend and the girlfriend's adorable daughter is not what she had in mind. But going back to the 'purple house' was even harder. Between all the memories and the community's outcry, they had no choice but to move into a plain condo on the other side of town.
During one of Olivia's moments of anger, grief and a little drunk, she find herself in a predicament... and that's when Lucas, her Stern, comes to her. Of course her initial reaction is that she is her mother's daughter, that she has all the symptoms of schizophrenia, and that if she tells anyone, they will want to lock her up too.

My heart ached so much for Stern, and his 'Liver'. The connection between these two characters was intense and moving. Their love of life, music and art was not only their life, but it bonded them. It's what tore them apart. It's what helped and healed them too.

The plot is so realistic, this is a story that could, unfortunately, be plucked right out of the newspapers. Every little detail mentioned added so much more to the story, the mystery. I was able to feel the Miami heat, hear the mosquito's buzzing around and smell the ocean breeze.
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