The Saturday Night Ghost Club

Penguin. Jul. 2019. 224p. pap. $16. ISBN 9780143133933.
An adult recounts the summer of his 12th year in 1980s Niagara Falls, Canada. Back then, Jake befriended the new kids in town, Billy and Dove Yellowbird, and—with his erratic, conspiracy-theory-and-urban-legend-believing Uncle C—embarks on a series of adolescent hijinx including hunting ghosts and contacting the dead. However, not all of the crew’s capers deal with the supernatural, evidenced when they dig up Jake’s father’s old Playboy magazines or set off fireworks into a would-be predator’s face in a junkyard. In addition to chronicling history, present-day adult Jake often takes the first-person narration out of the past, giving play-by-plays of his work as a brain surgeon or injecting after-the-fact knowledge and insight. This adds a level of depth and nuance that an older audience may appreciate, but will likely be lost on most middle grade or teen readers. Riddled with swears and lewd phrases (i.e., “getting laid”), outdated pop culture references (“Danger, Will Robinson!”), and numerous salacious situations, it is clear the point of view is that of a grown adult reflecting on his past rather than a child experiencing it, making this an uncertain fit for many youth libraries and classrooms.
VERDICT Though eloquent, this title would appeal more to an adult nostalgic for childhood than to a child reader. A pass for most youth and teen collections.

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