Saturday, March 02, 2013

On the Day I Died

On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming
Read:  2012

I'm really on the fence about this book. The big picture idea of this book is great, the little pictures that make it up were kind of disappointing.  I like that it's a little love letter to Chicago from Fleming and I like the way each individual story puts you on the path to the real reason for it all. 

Mark is late, again and racing toward home when his cellphone rings.  He's sure that it's his mom, calling to yell that he's missed his curfew. He ignores the call and stops to pick up a girl about his age on the side of the road.  The girl asks for a ride home and he obliges.  She asks him to drop her off at the end of her drive and he notices that she's left her brand new saddle shoes behind.  When Mark goes to return the shoes, he discovers that she no longer lives there and hasn't for some time.  He follows the trail he's set on and returns the shoes to the girl's grave.  While at the cemetery he discovers that there is a section for younger people and that there are many adolescent ghosts who want to tell their stories.  

Sounds interesting, right?  It is a very interesting concept and the end is very good.  I'll be nice and refrain from spoiling it for you.  However, these are the same tired ghost stories or variations on same that have been told forever. They may have been dressed up with younger people and different time frames and all happening in Chicago, but these are purely cosmetic changes. The heart of each story is a tale you've heard before and before that, and probably a few more times before that one.  

If Fleming had taken her youthful ghosts and given them new stories of their own, which considering what a great job she did creating the characters and the scene, she could have done, and quite well, this would have been a great book.  Instead, it's a possibly great book, made just okay by the rehashing of old ghost stories and spooky tales.


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