Title: Notes from Ghost Town
Author: Kate Ellison
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Source: ARC from Media Masters Publicity
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.
While I hadn't read anything by Kate Ellison before, I had heard nothing but really great things about her previous book, The Butterfly Clues, so I was really excited at the prospect of reading Notes from Ghost Town. It just sounded like this great story with just a bit of a ghost twist and that's exactly what it was. And before long, I found myself getting completely wrapped up in the mystery of the story.
For the last ten months Olivia has been living in a world of grey. Ever since her best friend, Lucas Stern, was murdered and her mom accused of committing the act she hasn't been able to see a drop of color. And now with her mother's trial looming, there's just something about the whole story not sitting right with Olivia. She just can't bring herself to believe that her own mother would have killed her best friend. So when Stern's ghost appears to her, Olivia starts to think she might be going crazy, turning into her schizophrenic mother. But Stern wants Olivia to find the truth, to figure out who really killed him. And maybe in the process Olivia will be able to move on from her first love, no matter how painful this may be.
Notes from Ghost Town was different from what I expected. Though I had read the synopsis and it had really caught my attention, the story I read was not what I thought it would be. And that's probably a good thing, because Notes from Ghost Town ended up having a lot of what I like in a story. In this book, Kate Ellison had just the right mix of ghost, heartbreak and mystery. The whole time I was reading, I just wanted to know what had really happened on the night that Stern was killed. But my heart was also going out to Olivia. Because there was heartbreak in this book as well. Because my heart broke a little every time I read about Olivia's grief over losing Stern, over losing her mother. It also broke a little every time I thought about someone as young and with as much potential as Stern having his life ended so early. And it even felt like breaking a little every time someone dismissed Olivia, thinking she was on her way to becoming like her mother. At the end of the day, the story in Notes from Ghost Town moved me and made me think a lot more than I thought it would.
I really enjoyed reading this story from Olivia's perspective and learning about her in the way that I did. Early on, you find out that her mother is schizophrenic and as much as I wanted to believe that Olivia wasn't on the path to becoming her mother, there were moments where I couldn't help it. But that's what made Olivia such an interesting character. That and her heartbreak and grief which I could just feel while I was reading. I could see her pain in the way she talked and acted, especially when Stern's ghost was around. And Stern was surprising as well. Though he's only truly alive for the first chapter of the book, I feel like I really got to know him and understand who he was, if only through all of Olivia's memories of him. The character that puzzled me the most to an extent was Austin. I just couldn't tell if he truly cared about Olivia or if he was just playing her. And come to think of it, that's the impression I got of most of the characters. But at the same time, that's in large part what kept me interested in the story.
Kate Ellison's Notes from Ghost Town was a surprisingly touching read. Going in expecting a ghost story, what I read instead was a story that moved me in ways I didn't think it would. In this book, Kate Ellison wrote a story that deserves to be read by everyone. You can be sure this is a book I will be recommending a lot.