Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Last night, I read Lisa's new YA novel, I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

Because it is a verse novel, it goes extremely quickly, which is bound to make this book a success with today's busy teens. (S, who grabbed it from me as soon as I was done, is taking honors classes in history and English, which means a whole crapload of reading all the time, so her recreational reading is way down. As in, she hasn't started Libba Bray's new book, even though she love-love-loves the first two, owing to time constraints. But a verse novel with all of its welcoming white space is something she feels "up to" right now.)

Before I say anything review-wise, I should point out that I've met Lisa in real life, not just on the interweb, and that I really, truly like her and consider her a friend. So, really, I was predisposed to want to like this book. But I can honestly say that I'd have liked it anyhow, even if I'd never heard of Lisa Schroeder, because the voice was great and the story was good. My knowing and liking Lisa already probably makes me like this book even more, but I'd have liked it anyway, if you see what I mean.

The main character, Ava, begins the book at the funeral of her boyfriend, Jackson. It takes a while until we figure out how Jackson died, but it's clear from the beginning that Ava blames herself for his death. Anything to do with what Jackson was like or how their relationship was is well-handled through flashbacks. And just as we sort out a bit about who he was and who they were together, we meet Jackson's spirit, who is keeping Ava company. Whether his company remains welcome is a separate issue, as is Jackson's reason for being there.

This book will make you think about first love and first loss and interconnectedness and grief and redemption without ever telling you what to think about any of it. And Ava's parents are the lovely, helpful sort of parents that all of us hope our children will see, although sometimes our kids don't see it the same way. As an adult reader, I really enjoyed that about it. As a teen reader, I can imagine being swoonily in love with this book and it's romantic story. For serious.

My favorite part? I'm not saying what it is, 'cause that would be all spoiler-ish and I'm not going there. And if you have the book but haven't yet read it, do not skip ahead. Seriously. But if you've read the book already, or after you read the book, tell me whether page 203 gave you goosebumps and made you cry, all at the same time. Because I sure did. Which isn't to say that the rest of the chapter-poems aren't good; just that page 203 is killer.

Brava, Lisa! I heart you and your book. Folks who don't yet own it may want to order a signed copy from Powell's. It's only $7.99 (plus shipping). And if you've got a teen girl around, this book will make a spectacular Valentine's Day present.

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