Nothing But Ghosts – Words of Wonder, and A Giveaway

For some 15 years, in my work with high school musicians, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with wonderful teenagers.  I suppose some would consider that phrase an oxymoron, thinking there is nothing wonderful about those bundles of hormonal confusion and restlessness we call teenagers.  But I beg to differ, for those that I traveled with along this particular musical path have offered me much in the way of love and loyalty, have inspired my spirit and warmed my heart with their insight, their vulnerability, their touching need for love and understanding. So it’s no surprise that I love reading Beth Kephart’s books about young people on the cusp of adulthood, confronting life’s dilemmas and fears and joys with equal measure of strength and courage.

 Nothing But Ghosts, her latest book for young adults, is a finely wrought tale of 16 year old Katie and the summer afterNothingButGhosts_HC_cher mother’s untimely death. The story involves a mysterious box of treasure, a stately home and garden, a deeply symbolic painting. It encompasses first love and first grief, as we watch Katie begin to understand some of life’s deepest lessons. And of course, the story is about ghosts…the wispy ghosts of memory, of forsaken pasts, of opportunities left behind. It is about the way people and opportunities can disappear in the wink of an eye.

Vanished. Things disappear and vanish. That’s the fact. Before you’re ready for them to go, they go, and after that all you can do is keep the idea of them bright inside yourself.

That’s a powerful realization for a young woman to learn, and even more powerful to convey. Reading young adult fiction, especially fiction like this which portrays such fully realized characters, reminds us that young people have deeply held feelings and thoughts about life, feelings they often have no idea how to process or express. As adults, we sometimes downplay the emotional life of teenagers, assuming that they’re too self-centered or immature to plumb the emotional depths. But that just isn’t so – as Katie so clearly demonstrates in her loyalty to her father, and her keen interest in the personal mystery that she digs up in this glorious garden.

Nothing But Ghosts  is poignant and lyrical, evoking tears and smiles on every page.  Reading it made me want to put my arms around all those wonderful teenagers I’m not able to see now that school is out for the summer. It makes me hope they are able to put to rest whatever ghosts haunt their lives, as Katie does, and learn to keep the idea of them bright inside themselves.

Now tell me, is there something or someone that has vanished from your life, and is now an idea that you keep bright inside yourself?

~~Thanks to the generosity of Anna Lefler, I’m able to offer a copy of  Nothing But Ghosts  to one of you who leaves a comment here~winner will be chosen at random on Friday, July 17, 2009~~


19 thoughts on “Nothing But Ghosts – Words of Wonder, and A Giveaway

  1. I had always thought Nothing but Ghosts is a story on actual ghosts, but after reading a couple of reviews I’m slowly getting used to the idea that it isn’t 🙂

    Love your review, very lyrical. I think we all keep memories of those who are no more with us alive. My Best Freind died when we were in 10th Grade. I was sad and depressed for quite some time. But lately I take care to remember only the good and funny things about her and it makes me happy that she is still alive and happy in my memories 🙂

    Oh and yes, please do enter me if international.

    • How hard it must have been to lose a friend so young. I’m glad you’re at the place now where you have happy memories to remind you of her.

      I think you’d love Nothing But Ghosts…and yes, I will enter you in the drawing.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts~

  2. What a wonderful question! I think there was a time in my life, when I was very young and my family lived abroad and we were all of us quite happy that vanished when I became a teenager and we moved away from that place and that house. I do think I have been looking for that all my life.

    Thanks for this review!

    • There are experiences in life which are so lovely and happy at the time, and we can never quite replicate them. Your families time abroad sounds like such a one.

      Thanks for sharing, Lily 🙂

  3. Both of my parents died 2 years apart. They are always with me. This may sound weird, but every once in awhile, I get this burning smell around me. No one esle can smell it but me, so I know that my parents are here with me. I miss them both so much. There is so much I want to talk to them about.
    Please enter me.

  4. Death is the the one expereince that is both dreaded and embraced , both at the same time, by so many cultures.

    Would love to read this..thanks!

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  5. Beth has the uncanny ability to both connect to teenage and adult readers AND create a novel that’s, literally, a work of art. I recently read Undercover, and while I usually hesitate to name an author one of my favorites after reading just one of his/her books, Beth was immediately on that list. Thank you for this giveaway!

    stephxsu at gmail dot com

  6. My Grandpa has vanished from my life. I keep his memory and ideals close to my heart and remember every day. Thanks for the chance


  7. A friend of mine died about ten years ago during the birth of her first child. During my own difficulties with pregnancy and motherhood I often think of her as my silent angel, looking down at me and smiling, saying “You can do it!” Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on that memory!

  8. Hi, Becca!

    Thanks to JoAnn from Lakeside Musings, I came to your blog. I read several of your reviews and I really find them beautiful! Especially this one-thank you for your empathy with teenagers! It is so reare to find today!
    Kindest regards,

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