- Age Range: 8-12
- Grade Level: 3-7
- Series: Stand Alone
- Print Length: 288 pages
- Publication Date: August 10, 2021
- My Rating: 4 stars
In Ghost Girl we get to know Zee Puckett, a sixth grader who has a lot on her plate. She would rather be wild and adventure, or read and tell stories than do the things she should be doing. Cleaning is stupid because things will just to get dirty again, and homework? Studying for tests? Being lady like? Ugh. More than anything Zee just wants people to let her be who she is instead of trying to change her all the time.
Zee is an incredible character and the depth of her feelings is a huge strong point for this book. Zee’s life is far from perfect and the author shows us Zee trying to deal with big feelings and confusion in a way that feels accurate and honest to what a 6^th^ grader could really do.
But the scene that really made me connect with Zee takes place with at recess with her bully Nellie. Nellie lays into Zee. Calling her names, and somehow giving voice to Zee’s inner fears in the way that only a bully really can. In that moment I stopped being a reader and I was Zee. I remember being in situations like this. Except Zee has the reaction I wish I had.
Tell Me about the Ghosts:
I picked up Ghost Girl because I like being scared and Malinenko delivers on this promise! The shadow creatures and ghosts are perfect. They are creepy and dark and honestly I’d be terrified if I encountered them. But it is the suspense, the howling and noises coming to get you that really build the creepy factor. I finished the book late at night and was sure I heard whispers in the dark.
What Could have been Better:
There isn’t much I’d change. In the research at the library scene Zee and friends come across an entry with a name they recognize. This confirms our suspicions that this character isn’t what they seem. I really wanted a little bit more mythology or lore. It feels like a missed opportunity to up the stakes a little bit higher.I never really felt that character were in life or death danger, and adding a bit of history about the bad guy could have raised the stakes without changing anything else that happens because we’d be aware of what *could* happen.
Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko is an excellent book that balances big feelings and realistic character with spine-tingling ghosts, evil shadow creatures, and the power of friendship. I wish this book had been around when my daughter was younger. I think she could have found a friend in Zee who understands the loneliness of school and feeling like you only have one friend.