A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Date Started: September 4, 2009
Date Finished: September 5, 2009
Summary: Helen is a ghost who has been dead for over a hundred years. She's been finding new hosts and haunting them until they die. Helen is haunting a man named Mr. Brown, a teacher at the local school. When one of his students notices Helen in his classroom, she is intrigued and yet frightened. She learns that this student is James, also another ghost like her. She learns that he has taken over the body of a boy named Billy Blake. They set off to find her a body to borrow and stumble upon a girl named Jenny, being raised in a strict Christian home with a terrible secret. As these ghost inhabit these bodies, they learn memories about their deaths that hold the key to forgiveness and Heaven.
Likes: This story is bizarre. Like deeply strange and yet somehow beautiful. The idea of souls left on Earth to finish out some unfinished business is strangely interesting. The love scenes between James and Helen were beautifully written though bordering on purple prose. (Albeit, Helen did live in a different time where purple prose ran rampant). The story starts off slow, but picks up about the eight chapter and is truly hard to put down. It deals with life and death and taking things into one's own hands. Helen's journey is also Jenny's journey as well as both of them come to their realization that they need to take things into their own hands. Helen finally listens and learns of her death and Jenny saves herself and starts life over again. Helen joins James in Heaven along with all the peoples she's "haunted" and she meets the person that's been calling her name since her death.
Dislikes: It takes a long while to pick up to the point where I couldn't put it down. I feel that we should have started with James and that would have cut out a third of the book. I don't think the story would have suffered if we didn't get as much as we did about Mr. Brown. I wish we could have gotten more reaction for the people around them about how strange it was to see the Christian girl with the Druggie.
Overall: This was such a strange and beautiful book that crosses between mediums. The writing was solid, if a little overblown at times, but it was a unique premise and a wonderful execution. The back of the book states that this is Whitcomb's first novel and I certainly hope that it won't be her last.