Another young adult novel, following an 11-year-old boy. His name is Ben, and he sees ghosts. Well, spirits, and only a few. Mainly, he sees Abby, a girl of his own age. His mother views his ability as a ‘gift’, but his father thinks he’s crazy. He gets angry when Ben talks about Abby as if she’s real, and tries several methods to rid Ben of his spirits.
Ben goes through a lot in this novel, from his cousin losing his foot, his father sending him to a shrink, being caught graffiti-ing, and being beaten up for standing up to a bully. And more! These things are mostly nothing to do with Abby or Ben’s ability to see the dead, but there are some connections. In one case, Ben actually exorcises a ‘dybbuk‘ from a stranger on a beach.
It is clear that Ben is desperate for his father’s approval. He attempts daring and foolish stunts designed to impress him, and he ends up lying about taking anti-psychotic medication just to please him. His mother often stands up for Ben, but this causes h er to fight with his father. Ben’s sister is rarely mentioned, and does not seem to make any comments on Ben’s ability – if she even knows about it.
A lot of this book felt like it was completely disconnected to the main plot; it felt a bit like a generic YA fiction novel at times. The plot revolving around Abby seemed to disappear for a while, before being re-introduced.
The plot with Abby was actually very interesting. I had my hunches from relatively early on, but it wasn’t overly obvious or predictable. I did find it a bit strange how Ben believed he had a romantic interest in her at one point, and the ‘solution’ she suggests is also a bit strange… But it was unique and innovative, that’s for sure. I’m intrigued to know where Abby got her name from, as it is later revealed that her mother referred to her as Eliza.
Ben’s exorcising ability was not explained or developed upon at all, and there was no other mention of/reference to dybbuks or similar demons. This was a bit of a shame, as that was an interesting aspect.
As Ben was quite a young protagonist, I do believe I am a bit too old to actually really appreciate this. The writing definitely seemed more suited to a slightly younger audience, but wasn’t overly immature. I’d definitely recommend this for slightly younger readers. I noticed a few mistakes, but only generic typos. 3.5 stars.