There is too much death in Katie Mullen's life--her mother, her father and now the ghosts. They come to Katie from the other side of dark. Read more...
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There is too much death in Katie Mullen's life--her mother, her father and now the ghosts. They come to Katie from the other side of dark. People who have died--recently, not so recently, in accidents, as suicide, as tragic pages from the past. When someone dies, their secrets die too. But if a ghost comes back, these secrets can speak again.... And that's what Law Walker wants, a passage to the past, the key to a secret that will change everything. So what if his dad doesn't want him dating a white girl? So what if people think Katie is crazy? Together they're about to uncover a piece of Boston history that is so shocking it was buried centuries ago, and now, nothing will ever seem the same. Get ready to see people--dead and alive--for who they really are.
- ISBN-13: 9781442402805
- ISBN-10: 1442402806
- Publisher: Atheneum Books
- Publish Date: November 2010
- Page Count: 312
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-10-18
- Reviewer: Staff
What good is being able to see and speak to the dead if it doesn't help solve a mystery surrounding them? Fifteen-year-old Katie Mullens can interact with ghosts, including that of her father, though not of her more recently deceased mother. Law Walker is the mixed-race son of activists--an academic father who's a prominent advocate for slavery reparations ("Even in pajamas, standing at the top of the stairs and saying, ‘Susan, I have lost my toothbrush,' his voice quivers with the weight of four hundred years of injustice") and a mother struggling to save a historic Boston building. Forging a friendship as outsiders--their classmates have written off Katie as crazy, and Law is a self-described geek trying to escape his domineering father's shadow--Katie and Law dive into a thickening tangle involving slavery, a treasure, and an old cabal that has modern-day repercussions for living and dead alike. Alternating between the teenagers' distinct and searching first-person narratives, and combining real history with quests for identity both personal and national, adult author Smith's YA debut is much more than just a ghost story. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Caught between two worlds
Law Walker comes from a home of wealth and prestige. His father is a prominent black Harvard professor who preaches in favor of reparations for slavery. Law’s mother, an architectural historian (and a white woman), is desperately trying to save Pinebank, a Boston landmark and the center of much controversy, from demolition. A child of mixed race, Law struggles with his identity: “I feel less black than Eminem,” he says.
Living in a very different world is Law’s high school classmate Katie Mullens, an orphan who has been grieving the death of her mother for the past year. Labeled crazy by her peers, she sees ghosts and draws deeply disturbing images of death. She is almost swallowed up in her grief until she and Law begin a life-saving relationship. Unfortunately, Law’s parents don’t approve of Katie. Not only is she poor, and from a broken home, but she’s also white—a fact not lost on Law either. For a guy struggling with being black, having a white girlfriend isn’t easy.
The two couldn’t be less alike, and yet they are drawn together by a centuries-old mystery surrounding the decrepit Pinebank and the ghosts who reside there. For Law and his mother, Pinebank is an irreplaceable historical gem, even if Law’s father condemns the house for the crimes committed by its slave-owning proprietor. For Katie, the key to freeing herself from the spirits who haunt her is buried somewhere in that house.
In her first novel for teens, Sarah Smith tells Law’s and Katie’s stories in alternating chapters, masterfully weaving in the very real and detailed history of Pinebank. The result is a haunting, emotional tale about a teenage girl’s unraveling, and a boy whose very identity feels entwined in a house condemned for demolition. The Other Side of Dark is no ordinary ghost story, but rather a meticulously researched and poignant tale about grief, identity and the dark pasts that can define us.