Monday, May 23, 2016

Beautiful Goodbye



WARNING! MILD TO MODERATE SPOILERS AHEAD!





     Beautiful Goodbye by Nancy Runstedler is an interesting case study. It's too short to be a novel, and just a little bit too long to be a novella. It's supposed to be a Young Adult title, but its writing style, plot and pacing is much more suited to middle-grade readers. Also, it seems to have no idea what genre it is supposed to belong to.
    The story is basically this: teenage Maggie is having a very hard time coping with the loss of her dad, plus her family's move into a new and unfamiliar house. It is at this new house, which was once a small bed and breakfast, when Maggie, her younger brother and her best friend are exploring the home's attic that they find an old Ouija board. Of course they decide to play with it and IMMEDIATELY make contact with the ghost of one of the home's past residents. It is clear to the kids that this spirit needs help, but they don't really know what she needs help with, or how they can even begin to offer assistance to a ghost.
    The story starts to become chaotic when all of a sudden, we are presented with time travel. But the time travel element makes no sense at all, since the second half of the novel is set during World War 1, but also somehow seems to simultaneously be set in the Wild West... but the author is Canadian, so is this actually set in Canada? And even though Maggie and her group often speak in a way that would CLEARLY make them seem pretty strange in 1914 so one really seems to make much of their use of the word "cool," or Maggie's friend asking for hair spray at the local clothing store....
    Moreover, no one in the past seems to have the slightest issue with three kids staying at a hotel completely unsupervised for what has to be at least a week.
    My biggest complaint is that the description I read prior to reading this hints at a much more complex story, and hints that the kids are actually supposed to DO SOMETHING to help this ghost so that they can get home... but they don't really do anything. AT ALL.
    The book can be summed up like this: mopey teen girl travels to the past, helps a girl her own age do some dishes, and goes home.

Final Rating: 2/5 bookmarks. Starts out promising but completely falls apart once the magical stuff starts happening.


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