Welcome aboard, train wreck.
“Riley’s always felt alone in middle school. She’s not alone anymore.”
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Riley’s Ghost by John David Anderson
From John David Anderson, acclaimed author of Posted, comes a ghost story pulled from the darkest shadows of middle school.
Riley Flynn is alone.
It feels like she’s been on her own since sixth grade, when her best friend, Emily, ditched her for the cool girls. Girls who don’t like Riley. Girls who decide one day to lock her in the science closet after hours, after everyone else has gone home.
When Riley is finally able to escape, however, she finds that her horror story is only just beginning. All the school doors are locked, the windows won’t budge, the phones are dead, and the lights aren’t working. Through halls lit only by the narrow beam of her flashlight, Riley roams the building, seeking a way out, an answer, an explanation. And as she does, she starts to suspect she isn’t alone after all.
While she’s always liked a good scary story, Riley knows there is no such thing as ghosts. But what else could explain the things happening in the school, the haunting force that seems to lurk in every shadow, around every corner? As she tries to find answers, she starts reliving moments that brought her to this night. Moments from her own life…and a life that is not her own.
Disclosure – I won this book as part of a contest from Goodreads. I received an advance reader’s edition to review. I am not being paid for my review (although I would love to be)
Book Release Date – January 11, 2022
Genre – Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction
Book Setting – The mainly takes place in the middle school but there are some flashbacks to Riley’s younger days. We see her watching TV with her dad and being read bedtime stories by him. One scene that made me cry was a memory of Riley sneaking down to the lake to swim in the middle of the night. There’s an exchange between Riley and her mother that really touched me and made me miss when my oldest was that age.
The main characters – Riley is a seventh grade girl just trying to navigate middle school while dodging bullies and her own emotional baggage. Emily is a main character ish in that she was Riley’s best friend, until she wasn’t. Then there’s Grace, Riley’s nemesis. We can’t forget Max, the talking frog. Sort of.
The storyline – Riley’s just trying to make it through middle school. Until one day, a bullying incident goes farther than just bubble gum in the hair. Riley is locked in a supply closet. When she gets out, no one is in the school. She is alone. She tries the doors, the phones, even the fire alarm, but nothing helps her escape. Not even the weird talking frog that is dead. She desperately tries to escape but the voices, movements, lights, and scenes that surround her keep her from getting home. Riley learns there’s more to middle school than bullies and friends. It really could be life and death.
How was the book set out? The chapters read more like scene breaks. But that’s ok. It made it feel like the book moved fast that way.
What did you like about the book? I honestly could relate to Riley. Middle school sucks. I know what it’s like to be the odd girl out. My oldest has the same experiences. In fact, I’ve recommended this book to her to read.
What would have made it better? I feel like the ending wasn’t very well explained. Without giving away too much, I have a lot of questions: what happened to Max, what happened to Heather, had anyone else reported the school being haunted.
What didn’t you enjoy in the book? It feels cliffhangery to me. Like, I didn’t get closure.
Would you read another book by this author? Absolutely. In fact, I’ve already added Posted to my TBR.
Your star rating. 4 stars.
Overall I loved this book. It took me three days to go through. It really did a great job of painting the picture that is the middle school experience. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who has been in middle school, anyone with a kid in middle school, anyone who has a history of being bullied, and anyone who enjoys a good ghost story.
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To help you get through your TBR, I’m including a printable bookmark. Just print it on cardstock. You can laminate it, it you like. Hope you enjoy.
It’s that time of year again. Is your tree looking a little like the one from Charlie Brown? Check this one out.