Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Delacourt Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: Feb. 10, 2009
About the Book: Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.
Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the church pews. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she’s certain it’s the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to? (Hardcover edition)
My Thoughts: I heart Saundra Mitchell's books so hard! The Vespertine is one of the first I ever reviewed. I loved it so much I felt the need to preface my review with a warning about all the gushing. I recently re-read her debut novel Shadowed Summer and felt the need to share it here. This is a book deserves a much wider readership than it has gotten. I mean come on... Tamora Pierce gave it FIVE STARS on goodreads!
Saundra Mitchell is a master at building up the atmosphere of her stories. Whenever I read her writing I feel totally immersed in the world she has created. When I saw Carrie Ryan (author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, The Dark and Hollow Places) speak she mentioned that Saundra is incredible at research. This shows in her books. All the details are in place so the reader feels like they are there but the story isn't bogged down. Her words are just so beautiful. I literally read long sections of her books aloud to myself. I can't even tell you. You should just go to google books and read part of this book for yourself.
In this book we meet Iris, her best friend Collette, and a classmate Ben. I was so impressed with the way these characters interact. The relationships and interactions are just so authentic. It made me think of being that age again. So, so well done!
Did I mention that this is also a ghost story?!? Typically I am a HUGE baby and cannot handle them. This one is just so amazing that I couldn't put it down... not even the third time reading it! I loved the mystery surrounding Elijah and the connections Iris makes. I can't comment too specifically because I don't want to give too much away. YOU HAVE TO READ IT!
Basically if Saundra Mitchell's books were a food they would be a smooth and delicious gourmet chocolate... something to be enjoyed and savored. I devour them much the same way.
Random Things I Loved:
*The expression "Where ya at?"
*Southern setting + ghost story = WIN
*The way we get a picture of the town through Iris' investigation
*The line, "Where I lived people who went crazy were allowed to with respect." It just really tickled me!
*Iris and her relationship with her daddy
*Iris' daddy in general
*The loyalty and integrity displayed by some of the characters