The Ghosts We Keep

Scholastic/PUSH. Jun. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338593341.
Gr 7 Up–High school junior Liam Cooper’s life is falling apart in the aftermath of his brother Ethan’s death in a hit-and-run accident. At 18, star baseball player Ethan was the family’s golden boy and nonbinary Liam feels like the leftover child. They feel equally redundant with their best friends, Vanessa and Joel, who have less time for them now that they’re dating each other. Retreating into music production, Liam finds that their enduring pain and anger alienates friends and family. The only person who seems to understand is Ethan’s best friend Marcus, but the more time they spend together, the more aware Liam becomes of how many secrets Ethan was keeping. Told in dual now/then time lines, this novel offers an honest look at the messy, overwhelming experience of coping with sudden loss. However, the plot drags and Ethan’s secret is obvious from the book’s beginning. Liam is a realistically flawed protagonist who lashes out at others and makes some selfish decisions, but their path through grief is cathartic and well-realized. Other plotlines reach less resolution, and supporting characters don’t get enough time on the page to feel like fully developed people. Liam and Marcus are coded as white, Vanessa is described as having brown skin, and Joel is Vietnamese American.
VERDICT A meandering look at grief, recommended for large collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing