Brown Girl Ghosted

HMH/Versify. Mar. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358128892.
Gr 10 Up–A small Midwest town, an Indian girl, and formidable supernatural powers add up to a book with a lot of promise, but which fails to deliver a believable story. Violet Choudhury, a junior in high school, is one of only a few brown people in her small Illinois town. Although she works hard to blend in, her ability to see spirits and talk to the dead make her anything but average. She is descended from a long line of female warriors who have tried training her, but she has become resentful towards them and has lost most of her powers as a result. When the local queen bee is murdered after a sex tape scandal, Violet will have to reconnect with her supernatural abilities to help solve the case—because her own life now depends on it. Although this story touches on relevant issues such as microaggressions, racism, and sexism, the writing is unpredictable and often feels forced. Some passages are hard to understand because the established premises vary; for example, spirits cannot touch or interact with objects, but that rule changes in the following chapter. A big issue with this book is the inconsistency in narrator; sometimes it’s first person, sometimes it’s third, but there’s no clear pattern to this change. There are a few plot holes that make the final product difficult to enjoy.
VERDICT Although it is refreshing to see a female protagonist of color in this paranormal mystery, the story ultimately does not live up to its potential. A secondary purchase.

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