Friday, February 12, 2010

Ruined by Paula Morris (2009)

What would it be like to trust a ghost? What would it be like to befriend a ghost, hanging out in the local cemetery? I actually live across the street from an old and beautiful cemetery and I can imagine it a little…I mean to say, I really have tried to imagine it, especially after I read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
Rebecca Brown, a native New Yorker, is forced to spend some time in New Orleans when her father takes a long-term work assignment in China. An old family friend, Aunt Claudia and her daughter, Aurelia play host to Rebecca as she begins school at Temple Mead, an all-girl, old money learning environment which caters New Orleans daughters. It's tough getting adjusted to a new school, and classmates as well as New Orleans society rules.  She's not a major player and can't figure out why anyone is concerned with her but she's new and curious-worthy.  Rebecca definetly plays by her own rules.
One night Rebecca trespasses into the cemetery across the street and spies on some of the elite students-referred to as “them” by well, all the other students. These are the same students Claudia has asked her to stay away from, which makes them somewhat more intriguing and mysterious. While hanging around the oversized tombs, Rebecca meets Lisette, a young black girl with a torn dress. Rebecca finds Lisette more interesting than her other classmates at Temple Mead and after repeated meetings she uncovers a family mystery and several hidden secrets that tangle Rebecca in as well. Mixed together with a little romance from the handsome and off-limits, Anton Grey, the story is a pleasure to read. Anton and Rebecca's porch swing kiss was a wonderful moment, exciting, then a major twist!!

My thoughts: I like a plot to make sense and this one does although there are some twists and turns that make me go “hmmm?”, why did the author choose that path…but nothing glaringly out-of-place. I loved learning about New Orleans history and it was a perfect time to read this with Mardi Gras approaching and the Saints just winning the Super Bowl. I've never been to New Orleans and this book is a reminder of how much I would love to visit this historic city.  There are many references to Katrina, which added a timely quality. I love the cover on this book but when I stared at it today I had to wonder who the girl on the front is supposed to be? Do they read the book before they pick the cover? It is definitely not Rebecca, Lisette or Helena? Add this to the many cover controversies circulating right now!

One of my favorite quotes:

“Lafayette Cemetery’s not a safe place,” her aunt told her. Unfortunetely. You should keep away.”    “Why?” Rebecca had a sudden vision of dead bodies reaching up to grab her, their stiff fingers dark with soil. p. 13

This sentence “stay out of the cemetery” reverberates for Rebecca on more than one occasion. This one was not too scary and I like friendly ghosts so it all worked.  One scene in particular took me back to Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut -all masked and bizarre Mardi Gras style-see that image still shivers me while this book did not.  Thank you, Paula Morris for making it just- the-right-amount of creepy.
Recommended-YA Fiction
4/5 peaceful stars
So what is your creepiness level??
Even though this is a library book (UNI) it won't count toward my library challenge-a friend had to check it out for me as my alma mater does not let alum check out from the Youth Collection-now there is a rule I would change if I was in charge!


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Love the cover; love the quote. Thanks for the great review too!

Jenners said...

I do love this cover!! And I can't even tell you how many rules would change if "I ran the world." : )