Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Standing With the Ghost Of You...

Published:  February 12th, 2013
Notes From Ghost Town
By: Kate Ellison
Egmont USA
ISBN-13:  9781606842645

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

     Olivia Tithe is back at home living with her Dad and his new girlfriend, waiting for her Mom's murder trial, and taking crazy chances out of desperation.  It all started the year before when she was visiting from art school in Michigan, and her friend Stern kissed her.  Unable to tell him how she felt, Olivia let him go, thinking she's have more chances.  But then she went colorblind and Stern was murdered - supposedly by her schizophrenic Mom, who is now awaiting trial in jail.  When the ghost of Stern starts visiting her and trying to tell Olivia that her Mom is innocent, she is afraid she's developing schizophrenia like her Mom.  Slowly she starts to believe that Stern really has returned, and that maybe there's a good chance that her Mom didn't kill him after all.  But if her Mom is innocent, who killed Stern and why would they frame her for it?  And with Olivia digging into the possibilities, this person will do anything to stop their secret from being uncovered.  Can she save her Mom from a horrible fate, help Stern move on, learn to let another boy into her heart and accept her new, imperfect family they way it is?
      Liv is a wonderful character with so much development that she blew my mind over the course of the book.  It pained me to see her on a path of self-destruction, but at the same time I was walking it so closely with her that I totally understood it from her perspective.  The interactions with Austin, the maybe, not-so-jackass rich boy and Stern, her dead first love are phenomenal.  My only complaint would be the tried and true plot twist used to explain why Austin suddenly expresses interest in Olivia.  I mean, really? There wasn't a more original idea waiting in the wings to even that bump out a little bit?  Olivia's Mom was Stern's piano teacher for most of their lives and he had been practicing for an audition at Julliard religiously.  But with Liv's Mom being schizophrenic and off of her meds, no one questions whether or not she really killed him.  I liked the deeper characterization of Liv's Dad and his new girlfriend Heather, who the author made believably likeable, instead of going the cliché, distant, soon to be step-wench route.  The journey to find a way to the truth of Stern's murder and the overlying plot with her colorblindness were so well woven that I found myself rooting for her to gain her sense of self back, even early on when I barely knew her.  The identity of the murderer was kept in pretty good suspense for most of the book, with some clues scattered throughout but I really didn't start putting it together until about halfway through.  Also, the resolution of the story with Olivia's Mom is pretty realistic and not happy-go-lucky like a lot of authors might have chosen.  Like I said previously, the unnecessary vilifying of Austin was the only thing that threw me off track and kind of made me pissed off by a reader.  Overall, this novel was a bittersweet, beautiful story of family, friendship, first love, coming of age and learning to let go of the past for the sake of the future.  I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves mysteries family-oriented stories and romance. 
VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars
*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published February 12th, 2013.*

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