The Ghost in the Glass House

240p. Clarion. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-02291-1. LC 2012051330.
Gr 5–8—Since the death of her father three years earlier, Clare, 12, and her mother have traveled continuously to fill the void left by his passing. Their latest haunt, an estate in a seaside resort town, harbors a mysterious secret-a glass house inhabited by the ghost of a young boy who remembers nothing of his past. Her mother's friendship with her best friend's father leaves Clare unsettled and yearning for home. Despite the housekeeper's disapproval, she increasingly seeks out the ghost's company, only to become infatuated with him. He returns her affection, but doesn't share her exuberance to uncover his identity. When a friend's ill-judged decision goes awry, it is Clare who resolves it, thereby setting right the rift that has developed between her and her mother. Wallace's writing is descriptively lush, leaving readers with a vibrant feel for the story. The opulence and extravagance of the 1920s shine through while the plot exhibits elements of melodrama, some parts having an almost gothic feel. An interesting piece that fans of historical fiction are sure to appreciate.—Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library
In the three years since her father’s death, twelve-year-old Clare has been dragged from hotel to hotel all over the world by her frenetically grieving mother to avoid returning to their home in New York. Their latest stop, a summer house by the sea, has a secret history surrounding the previous owners and a locked glass pavilion in the backyard. Although the stern housekeeper refuses to divulge what she knows, Clare discovers that the glass house is haunted by the ghost of a boy named Jack who has forgotten who he was in life. As Clare tries to uncover the truth about his past and perhaps find a way to contact her father, she realizes that she is falling in love with the invisible phantom. Clare is a refreshingly thoughtful heroine, a quiet, keen observer of others even as she harbors her own insecurities about growing up. While her mother finds solace in social gatherings and her peers experiment with adolescent romance, Clare is reluctant to cross the “boundaries of childhood”—just as Jack fears moving on to the afterlife. Wallace deftly uses the Spiritualist fervor of the 1920s period setting to populate her novel with characters who are paralyzed by ghosts of the past, both real and metaphorical, and demonstrates the need to balance honoring the past and living in the present. russell perry

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