Thursday, November 01, 2007

Is This a YA Book?

I trusted the School Library Journal review and purchased A Ghost at the Table for my YA collection. I was excited about the book, but it's taken me a couple of months to get around to reading it. I've read about half of the book, and I am having trouble seeing the relevance to teens. It's a good book about family secrets and family dysfunction, but the main character is a 40-something single woman who rarely reflects on her adolesence, with those rare spots being the time when her mother died after a long illness and her father took up with his would-be second wife.

I must give the book a chance and finish the second half before setting forth my judgment and handing the book over to one of my branch's Adult Services Librarians, but has anyone else read this book?

Update: I've finished the book. And I double-checked the review. Published in January, School Library Journal placed the review in their Adult/High School Section:


BERNE, Suzanne. The Ghost at the Table. 304p. Algonquin. 2006. Tr $23.95. ISBN 1-56512-334-4. LC 2006040073.

Adult/High School—Sisters, living and dead, loom large in Berne's tale of family secrets unraveled. Cynthia Fiske writes a series of historical fiction for girls, depicting the lives of remarkable women through the eyes of their slightly less-remarkable sisters. An invitation to her own sister's house for Thanksgiving in New England coincides with her need to visit Mark Twain's home in Hartford to research a new novel on the writer's daughters, whose story of a charismatic father and three troubled siblings parallels the Fiskes' history. Complicating the usual holiday tensions is the presence of their elderly father, once brash and manipulative, now disabled and facing a divorce from his much-younger wife. As the family struggles with generations of dysfunction and unspoken secrets, including the mysterious death of their mother decades earlier, Cynthia rebels by sharing the most sordid details of the long-gone Clemens family. Although she is nearing middle age, her feelings of isolation and rejection that began in childhood have left her a perpetual adolescent in relation to her family. Much like the child narrator of Donna Tartt's The Little Friend (Knopf, 2002), Berne portrays a confusing, comic, even sinister family dynamic and eschews a pat, happy ending in favor of a very real, if provocative, choice that will appeal to teen fans of family dramas.—Jenny Gasset, Orange County Public Library, CA

Has anyone successfully used this book in any YA sort of way?

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