THE GIRL WITH THE GHOST MACHINE, by Lauren DeStefano, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, June 6, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
Yesterday, I reviewed One For Sorrow, a middle-grade ghost story that lacked a character to love. Today’s review of The Girl With the Ghost Machine is the complete opposite. It’s a different kind of ghost story all together — it makes you think and makes you grateful for even the smallest of moments.
One month after Emmaline Beaumont’s mother died, her father began working on a machine. It wasn’t just any machine, but a ghost machine with which Emmaline’s father hoped to bring back his wife. You see, when she died, she took with her everything else. It seemed as if everything had died with her. So Emmaline’s father began his work and eventually Emmaline returned to school.
With Emmaline in school, her father became free to work on the machine all the time. Slowly Emmaline began to see color and life began to make sense again, but still her father toiled in the basement, obsessed with the dead and slowly forgetting about the living.
Two years have passed since Emmaline’s father began working on the machine and it still doesn’t work. Two years of neglect have finally caught up with Emmaline. She’s tired of being forgotten. So Emmaline makes a plan — she will make the ghost machine work or destroy it forever.
But even the best intentions have a way of slipping away from you, and Emmaline soon realizes that neither option will solve all her problems.
The Girl with the Ghost Machine is a beautiful book. Author Lauren DeStafano’s prose is lyrical and emotive. Sprinkled throughout the text are phrases like, “ Emmaline herself hardly spoke in the first month after her mother’s death, sustaining herself on the chocolate cherries her mother kept hidden under the sink salting them with tears.”
Not only is Emmaline likeable, but her friends Gully and Oliver are, too. And even though Emmaline’s father ignores her, DeStefano gives readers enough to understand why he’s acting the way he does. She also gives the father a chance to redeem himself in the end.
Spoiler Alert: It turns out the ghost machine works by consuming memories. Once it uses up the memory, it’s gone forever. This poignant touch really makes you think — would you spend one more moment with the person you love knowing you would never have that memory of them again?
© 2017, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.