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
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Ursu is the author of acclaimed novels The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy, The Lost Girl, Breadcrumbs, 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 Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com, and School Library Journal. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an unruly herd of cats. Find Anne online at anneursu.com.
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