I received this e-book from NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Pram Bellamy is special–she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.
Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.
Lauren DeStefano has made a name for herself with her YA series, The Internment Chronicles, and the Chemical Garden trilogy. With The Curious Tale of the In-Between, she ventures into middle grade territory, and what a magical tale she has crafted!
Pram, short for Pragmatic, has been raised by her loving elderly aunts who run a home for the elderly. Her only friend is Felix, a ghost that only Pram can see. Once Pram starts attending public school and meets Clarence who is grieving for his mother, they along with a slightly reluctant Felix begin searching for Pram’s mystery father and the ghost of Clarence’s mother.
At the beginning I did find myself wondering if this should be aimed at tweens. The opening scene features a nurse discovering the body of a pregnant woman (Pram’s mother) hanging from a tree. I have to admit I cringed at the thought of a tween reading that. It’s a very brief passage though and the rest of the story really is perfect for that age range.
Pram is an absolutely enchanting character. As a young girl filled with curiosity and the ability to see ghosts, she has a unique perspective of the world around her. She’s an intelligent, and compassionate girl who truly comes into her own at the end of the book. Clarence, who has also suffered loss, makes the perfect companion for Pram who has never really known friendship, at least among the living. The ghostly Felix could have been relegated to third-wheel status, but his caring and loyalty for Pram instead turns this into an appealing trio.
While the story is entertaining, there are more than a few teachable moments. At it’s heart, The Curious Tale of the In-Between is a story of two grieving eleven-year olds coping with loss in different ways. It’s also about the meaning of friendship, family, and learning to love yourself. Although the ending is perfectly satisfying it seems as though Lauren DeStefano will be sending Pram on further adventures and I’m quite curious as to where they will lead.
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