Violet Ghosts

Bloomsbury. Jun. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547604630.
Gr 9 Up–When your whole childhood has been lived around an abusive parent, a ghost turns out not to be so scary. In fact, that ghost might just become your best friend. That’s exactly what happens when Dani finds Sarah haunting the space under the bed. As Dani gets older, their relationship becomes more entwined, and Dani is terrified to tell Sarah that he’s trans. Sarah has good reason to distrust men, having been murdered by one, so Dani hides his true self. The two decide to start a shelter for the ghosts of murdered women, allowing Dani to work through the abuse he experienced from his father. But when a childhood rival, Seiji, comes back into the picture, Dani must reevaluate everything from his own memories to his relationship with Sarah. With lyrical writing, a gripping plot, and visceral emotion, there are many high points to this book. While the story includes Dani’s self-realization and coming out, his trans identity is not presented as a hurdle or as the only important thing about him, creating a fully human character. Readers should be aware that this book contains depictions of suicide, physical and sexual violence, and anti-trans language. Dani and Sarah’s ethnicities aren’t stated, and Seiji is Japanese and white.
VERDICT Give this to fans of ghost stories, magical realism, feminism, and complex characters. A first purchase for high school and public libraries.

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