She Is a Haunting

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2023. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547610815.
Gr 8 Up–A possibly haunted house, an angry teen, and paranormal elements join forces in this dark debut novel. Jade Nguyen was born and raised in Philadelphia to immigrant Vietnamese parents. When her dad leaves the family, and her mom struggles as a nail technician, Jade becomes discouraged as the possibility of college moves further away due to finances. Now that her dad is renovating an old colonial house in the Vietnamese countryside, he asks Jade and younger sister Lily to spend the summer together. But there’s a catch: if Jade makes amends with her Ba and stays for five weeks, he’ll pay for her college tuition. Resentful and hurt, she tries in vain to get out of the deal, but strange things start happening around the old house which make Jade’s desire to leave even greater: dead bugs, ghosts, and sleep paralysis. When she talks to her dad and sister, they shrug off her concerns. How can Jade survive this summer when the house seems to be haunting her? This novel is a slow-burn, dark tale of identity, immigration, colonialism, and sexuality (Jade is bisexual). The atmospheric creepy things that happen all around the house’s inhabitants are eerie and beautifully written, giving readers a tingle in their spines. Though the ending may be confusing to some, this story will be well received by teens looking for representation and empathy.
VERDICT Recommended for all libraries, especially for those serving readers seeking Asian and Asian American voices.

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