I’m Not Supposed to Be in the Dark

Holt. May 2023. 400p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781250788535.
Gr 9 Up–Aria has always had magic around her. She even takes a special tea twice a day to keep her dreams from taking her over. However, on the eve of her senior year of high school, she misses drinking every drop of her tea and “envisions” the rosebush across the street turn to ash and tar only to see it happen in real life. This rosebush belongs to Derek, the boy who used to be her best friend, and leads her to reconcile her friendship with Derek as he abruptly stops giving her the cold shoulder. The reasoning? He is being possessed by a ghost. Aria’s feelings grow stronger as she tries to help the real Derek solve the mystery of what has happened to him; will it be enough to get rid of the spirit inhabiting him? This novel features beautiful and whimsical writing that slowly reveals the magic and ghostly happenings around Aria and her friends and family. She has a hilarious and loyal friend, Briana, and while there is plenty of mystery and magical spookiness with the main story line, there are also many realistic high school scenes throughout including parties, AP Calc, and Aria getting grilled by her titi about college applications. The love story that blossoms, unlike the rosebush, is one that lights a fire on the page and will keep readers wanting a happy ending for all. Aria is of Cape Verdean and Filipino heritage.
VERDICT A gorgeously written, supernatural fantasy that deserves a place in secondary libraries where romance, feelings, and magic are appreciated by teens.

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