Genre: Young Adult Speculative Contemporary
Year Release: November 29th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm
Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC
Content warning: intergenerational trauma, domestic violence, divorce, blood, vehicular manslaughter
Fifteen-year-old Sara is really going through it between her parents’ impending divorce, her Bibi Jan’s dementia, and the house her mother is flipping that is unequivocally haunted by a ghost which may be a part of Sara’s past. Family secrets and a truth hidden for generations come together in this contemporary fiction that’s as much about community within an immigrant family as it is about Sara’s personal coming of age.
If you’re looking for a YA book with a younger protagonist and no romance arc that’s as heart-wrenching as it is spooky, you are in for a treat. Definitely among the best books I’ve read this year.
Zargarpur pulls off something incredible with this work. At the highest level, it’s a compelling story about family. But it’s also a compelling tale of a family, but also weaves a ghost story that is a delight for all fans of that horror genre subgenre. That being said, however, I would not consider this book a horror. The focus is definitely more on the interpersonal rather than instilling fear. It’s spooky, but melancholic in a way that feels true to life. Sara’s interactions with Malika, specifically the flashbacks, nearly brought me to tears.
I loved Sara as a narrator. She’s thorny, she has a deep inner world, and she is intricately connected to those around her. While this is definitely her story, she’s not the central focus. The way the plot does not let Sara off the hook for being selfish in a way that seems archetypical of young adult protagonists really works. This is a story about family, not just in the past tense but in the present as well. There are immediate wounds that need healing, such as the rift between Sara and each of her parents, but also the things Bibi Jan kept that are falling through the cracks of her own fractured memory.
There is also a sense of respect for all the women in Sara’s life. It’s unspoken that there is no right way to be a mother or a woman in this work, and I think it’ll resonate with other readers as well. The complexity is astounding, especially given that love leaps off the page with all its thorns and tenderness.
An absolutely gorgeous ghost story that’s also about familial love and community that I cannot recommend enough.
Thank you so much for your review! I will have to check this one out 😃
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