Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ruined by Paula Morris

It is not often that I read a "ghost story" and truly love it.  The only other book that grabbed me this way about an ethereal being was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (and reading this book made me want to re-read Niffenegger's book because it was just so good!).

Ruined, by Paula Morris, is a great read!

I find I'm a a little behind the curve in writing about this book, though.  It was published August 1, 2009.  Whoops!  I bought it at the book fair last year and just got around to turning the pages. It starts slow, but once you're in - you're in!

Book Description via
Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There's just one catch: Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend -- and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey -- she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?
The description gives it more of a teen angst feel than the book truly has.  It is a YA novel, but it is steeped in historical fiction of Mardi Gras in Louisiana.  That is what I loved the most about this book.  Morris, originally from New Zealand, really captured the essence and the pride of this landmark state putting her own dynamic flair to "old money" in the deep deep south. 

Her lead character Rebecca is a strong female protagonist that does NOT give into the social pressures of her high society new school. She maintains a true identity throughout, and an open mind.  Never once do you doubt the realness of her intentions, nor do you doubt the faith she has in her friend that is a ghost.  This makes you attach to her character closely, not wanting to see her hurt, or lost or betrayed.  I found myself becoming defensive and annoyed with the other characters in the book when they weren't as strong as Rebecca.  But, I'm sure Morris intended her readers to get mad at Anton a few times, after all - he is the requisite love interest.

As a true "spooky" book, Morris had me.  At every turn I was never quite sure what was going to happen - was Lisette real?  Was she honest?  Was she lying?  What secrets did she hold?  The drama infused between Lisette, her past, her familial connections kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the reading.  I had no idea what to believe until the very end and even then, it's so well portrayed that you find yourself just staring into the pages of the book.

I would highly recommend this read.  It's fairly short, 309 pages, and would appeal mostly to middle school age and up.  If you like history interwoven with fiction, this is a book for you!

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