Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland

Published by Balzer + Bray

Ophie's Ghosts: Ireland, Justina: 9780062915894: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Ophie learns that she can see ghosts the night her father is killed by a lynch mob, and his spirit directs her how to save herself and her mother.  The two of them flee to Pittsburgh, where they stay with relatives.  The cousins bully Ophie, but her Aunt Rose, who also has the ability to see ghosts, instructs Ophie how to use her gift.  When Ophie and her mother start working at Daffodil Manor, Ophie has her hands full serving mean old Mrs. Carruthers and trying to figure out with the various “haints” that occupy the house.  One spirit in particular, a beautiful young woman named Clara, is kind and helpful to Ophie.  Clara was killed in the house, but has no recollection of how it happened, and enlists Ophie to help her solve the mystery.  Although Clara seems kind, she’s a ghost, and Aunt Rose has warned Ophie that ghosts can always be dangerous no matter how friendly they seem.  As Ophie begins to unravel Clara’s mystery and close in on the murderer, it starts to seem as though danger is waiting for her in every corner of the spooky old mansion.  336 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Part ghost story, part historical fiction, this engaging story will draw readers in from the suspenseful prologue, and keep them guessing all the way to the end.  Ophie’s life as a Black girl in the 1920’s, first in Georgia and then in Pittsburgh, is filled with injustice and hardship, and it takes all her strength and special gifts to turn things around for her and her mother.  I hope this book will get some award consideration.

Cons:  Not really a con, but more of a warning: if you don’t like spooky stories or aren’t quite ready for Halloween just yet, you may want to take this week off from reading the blog! 😉

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