Forever is a long time to be stuck in high school.
Seventeen-year-old Paige is dead, the victim of a freak fall from the roof during Physics class. Now she’s a ghost, permanently bound to the grounds of her high school. It isn't all bad, she can find out everyone’s secrets, which can be amusing—for a while. But then Paige hears something that isn't amusing at all: the rumor spread by the most popular girl at school that her death wasn't an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose. Paige is desperate to stop the gossip, but what can a ghost do? Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get inside the girl who’s responsible for the stories. . . and have a little fun turning the tables while she’s at it.
Release Date: May 21,2013
Published By: Chronicle Books
Review Copy: Hardback, 184 pages
This is a quick read at only 184 pages but that doesn't mean it was a bad read. I found myself oddly drawn into the ghost world of Paige and all of the drama and circumstances that surrounded her end and her continued existence. Williams created a simple story that has subtle messages and lessons placed throughout.
Everything that takes place is within the high school. This made everything really easy to picture and clear as a bell. There were a few memories that took place just off of the school grounds but they were simply moments that Paige remembered or wished to get back. I actually loved the simplicity that this brought to the story most of the time but there were a few moments that I found myself wishing that the trapped friends could step off of their death grounds.
Paige was really easy to like right from the start. She isn't whiny or particularly strong but she is real(well as real as a ghost can be). The situation she found herself in was particularly horrible and there wasn't a moment that I blamed her for trying to fix the rumour. In doing this Paige discovers there is more to think about than what people are saying. Yes she does mess things up a little and mess around with peoples lives but in doing so she kind of fixes things too. Sometimes things don't turn out how you expected them to but they turn out how they are supposed to.
Something else to really appreciate here is that the author doesn't pass judgment on how life continues after death. She doesn't really flush out why the three students are stuck at the school, can't leave the grounds or how/if they will ever be able to leave. Even though there are religious students that make speculations and their point on how they believe it works the author leaves everything open to interpretation. Not to mention she touches on the subject of being afraid of being forgotten.
Absent was an enjoyable read that I started and finished in a few hours. Williams created likable characters that are in an undesirable situation and yet she kept things light. There are many ways she could have changed the story but the way she wrote it she left behind complications. This read was not much like originally anticipated but I am okay with that. The things that were learned and suggested by the time the book was done were more important than a fun and fluffy read.
When we try to escape, the school takes us back to where we died. Our death spots.
Then I realize that I'm not holding her hand at all. My hand is Usha's hand. I'm holding her pencil. I can feel the crimped wood of it, the keen edge of the paper under my other hand, the pebbly plastic of the chair beneath me, the firm tile of the floor resting under the souls of my shoes.
Me, I feel like the object that's been forgotten. I feel like the act of forgetting. When I felt this way before, I would go to Usha, who'd drag me out to her car, where she would play the right music (screamy) at the right volume (loud) and drive the right speed (fast). We would fly down those roads. Just fly.