Breate: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish, is another of the Virginia Readers' Choice books for 2011. After finishing it, I have been left speechless in a lot of ways!
Jack and his mother move to an old farmhouse for a fresh start after Jack's father dies. Sarah, Jack's mother is desperate to get her son to start moving past trying to bring his father back. Unbeknown to her, the farmhouse is full of ghosts, caught between the living world and the Other Side.
Ghost Mother, the main ghost character has made it her mission to stay away from the Nightmare Passage, where ghosts who are stuck between the two worlds eventually go. In order to remain out of it, she must steal the souls of other ghosts so she has collected four ghost children, Ann, Oliver, Charlie, and Gwenyth, from whom she taunts and scares.
She doesn't bargain on Jack being able to see and communicate with her and the ghost children. This presents a problem for her because Jack figures out what she is doing to the ghost children and because of his gift, he is able to stop her. However, the middle of the story is action packed with the Ghost Mother inhabiting Jack's mother's body, the Ghost Mother's long dead daughter, Isabelle, coming back to tell the story of her death, and the ghost childrens' many attempts to evade the Ghost Mother.
While parts of this book were downright strange, it was good overall. I stayed late yesterday to finish it because I just had to find out what happened and how Jack saved the day. Being that I am not big on mysteries, this book was surprisingly good and it has been VERY popular with my middle school students, although many of them report that they find the ending confusing. Because everything happens so fast at the end, I can understand this opinion.
If nothing else, it does make you think about what is on the other side of this life...