A tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
I loved Lauren Oliver’s book Before I Fall so when I started this book I had high hopes. The synopsis sounded interesting and the first couple chapters I really enjoyed. Unfortunately it did not live up to my hopes, which is so disappointing because it had so much potential.
There are books where at the start you don’t like the main characters but because of the writing or the story line you grow to understand them or even like them. This was not that book. After a few chapters I couldn’t stand the characters. I think a lot of that had to do with what I can only describe at times as vulgar writing. I am not one to get offended easily and don’t mind crass writing if it contributes to the story but this did not. I also couldn’t stand how these characters acted and the decisions they made.
There were also so many story lines that were all over the place and didn’t get the details they deserved. The author was trying to do too much in 320 pages. The ending felt rushed like she was trying to tie up too many loose ends. This is Lauren Oliver’s only adult novel and I think she should stick to YA books.
“It was unfair that people could pretend to be one thing when they were really something else. That they would get you on their side and then do nothing but fail, and fail, and fail again. People should come with warnings, like cigarette packs: involvement would kill you over time.”
“Memory is as thick as mud. It rises up, it overwhelms. It sucks you down and freezes you where you stand. Thrash and kick and gnash your teeth. There’s no escaping it.”
“It all boils down to the same thing: are you going to play the cards you got, or are you going to fold?”
“But that’s the beauty of life: time is yours to keep and to change. Just a few minutes can be sufficient to carve a new road, a new track”