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The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren…
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The Girl with the Ghost Machine

by Lauren DeStefano

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Emmaline Beaumont's mother has passed away. Unfortunately, Emmaline's father has become fixated with building a machine that will bring Emmaline's mother's ghost back, and in doing so, he himself has forgotten about the living in his obsession with the dead, so in many ways Emmaline has lost both of her parents. The only people she can confide in are twins Gully and Oliver, her best friends in school. Yet for of their understanding and patience, Gully and Oliver are unable to fully understand Emmaline's loss as they have never lost someone so close to them as Emmaline's mother was to her. Her father's machine, however, may actually work, and it is then that Emmaline must decide whether the cost of operating the machine is worth the price paid, and will the twins help her in her decision, regardless of what that decision is?

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.

I received a print ARC of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review. ( )
  tapestry100 | May 8, 2017 |
Emmaline loses her mother to a sudden illness when she is ten and almost loses her father too. Her father becomes obsessed with creating a ghost machine to bring her mother back. His obsession results in a lack of care for Emmaline. Emmaline comes to resent the machine for the time it takes her father from her but is moving on from her grief while her father is still locked in his.

One night, Emmaline pours some tea that she makes, which is just like the tea her mother used to make for her during thunderstorms, into the machine. The machine has a reaction finally and Emmaline's mother comes back for a brief period of time. But there is a cost, Emmaline can no longer remember the tea or what her mother was like during thunderstorms. She shares what she learns with her two best friends - twins Gully and Oliver - who have different reactions to Emmaline's mother's return.

When Emmaline's father finds out that the machine is working and loses a memory to see his wife again, he begins to lose his obsession and pay more attention to Emmaline though he refuses to unplug the machine. Then tragedy strikes again...

This was an amazing story with wonderful language and lots to think about. What would a person give to bring back someone who has died even if it is only for a little while? Is it worth the cost? The story also has a lot to say about grief and moving on with your life and how people take different amounts of time to begin living their life again.

I recommend this one to thoughtful middle graders. ( )
  kmartin802 | May 4, 2017 |
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