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Ghost's Child


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The Ghost's Childis an enchanting fable about the worth of life, and the power of love.

About the Author

Sonya Hartnett is the internationally acclaimed author of several novels, including Thursday's Child, winner of the 2002 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and Forest, winner of the 2002 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year: Older Readers. In 2003, her adult novel, Of a Boy, won The Age Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2004, The Silver Donkey was published to great critical acclaim. It has won the 2005 Brisbane Courier Mail award for young readers and was CBC Book of the Year (Young readers) in 2005.


Hartnett (Surrender) introduces an unlikely protagonist for a one-of-a-kind love story. When 75-year-old Matilda Victoria Adelaide, or Maddy, comes home to find a mysterious boy awaiting her, she thinks it "odd, but also somehow flattering, as when a stray cat chooses your house to call home." She tells him about her youth and about falling in love. Thus begins a tale that revels in profound questions ("How... does one craft sturdy happiness out of something as important, as complicated, as unrepeatable and as easily damaged as a life?" ; "What is the world's most beautiful thing?"; is life "settling for what you can get, if you can't have what you really want?") and Maddy's tireless pursuit of their answers as they unfold through her relationship with Feather, a youth who captures her heart so totally that she is forever changed. Those who enjoy fables or magical realism will be spellbound by this redemptive story of a search for love, love lost and love (of a sort) found again. If the emotional distance created by the narrative frame proves a barrier for other readers, the exquisite prose may yet hold them. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Gr 8 Up-When the elderly Maddy finds a strange young boy in her house, she's unfazed and embarks on a long conversation over tea in which he prompts her to review her long life in this novel by Sonya Hartnett (Candlewick, 2008). We follow her through her joyous relationship with a boy named Feather, the fading of that love, a miscarriage, and her attempted suicide. After Feather leaves, she sails the seas alone to find him, but discovers that he has found a life of perfect (and stultifying) peace. Rejecting his choice, she returns to real life, nurses soldiers during WWI, becomes an eye doctor, and embraces old age. Finally, we realize that this boy is the ghost of the child she miscarried come to accompany her on her voyage into death. Australian actress Caroline Lee's reading ably captures all of the text's nuances and American listeners will have no trouble understanding her. While there are a few minor sound glitches, overall technical quality is very good. Sonya Hartnett's prose is frequently beautiful, but the story's mixture of realism and fable and its mystifying titleÄthe boy is a ghost, not the child of a ghostÄmay have difficulty finding an audience. -Louise Sherman, formerly Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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