Monday, January 22, 2024

Blog Tour: Not Quite a Ghost by Anne Ursu

When Violet Hart's growing family moves into an old house for more space, she is less-than-thrilled when she discovers her new bedroom is in the attic and is plastered with a hideous yellow wallpaper. It isn't long after her family moves into the house that Violet falls ill from a mysterious virus -- that keeps her feeling sick for weeks afterwards, with no answers from her doctors. In fact, not only do her friends question whether Violet is really sick, but so do her doctors. Due to her malaise, Violet spends a lot of time in her creepy room... and she eventually starts to wonder if she's actually alone up there and also how much of her mysterious illness is related to whatever is living (or dead) in her room. 

Not Quite a Ghost is a book that any adult that has taken enough literature classes in college will immediately make the connection to the famous short story by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, "The Yellow Wallpaper." In that story, a woman is left alone to "recover" from her postpartum depression by being isolated alone up in a room where she eventually descends into madness. Instead of postpartum depression, the main character in Not Quite a Ghost is a young 6th grade girl who is being told by her friends and the medical community that there is nothing wrong with her and everything she is experiencing is in her head. So in that regard, it is a book about medical gaslighting and the very real damage it causes to real people, disguised as a ghost story. 

I  am generally not a fan of fantasy stories because so often they are hard to follow and lack fully realized and empathetic characters. But because Ursu writes characters that feel like real people, I find myself not being able to stop turning the pages of her books. Not only is Violet a protagonist you root for, but there are a lot of other wonderful characters in this book that you fall in love with, including Violet's mother and stepfather, which is unusual in children's literature to have supportive and competent parents. 

I look forward to recommending this book to readers, kids and adults alike, who are experiencing any sort of chronic illness that has resulted in being written off by their doctors, as they will most certainly see themselves in this story. 

Not Quite a Ghost Educator guide


Anne Ursu 
is the author of acclaimed novels The Troubled Girls of Dragomir AcademyThe Lost GirlBreadcrumbs, and The Real Boy, among others. Her work has been selected as a National Book Award nominee, a Kirkus Prize finalist, and as a best book of the year by Parents MagazinePublishers Weekly,, and School Library Journal. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an unruly herd of cats. Find Anne online at



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