The Girl in the Lake by India Hill Brown

Published by Scholastic

The Girl in the Lake: Brown, India Hill: 9781338678888: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Celeste is apprehensive about spending two weeks at her grandparents’ lake house with her brother and cousins.  She’s just had a bad experience with swimming lessons and is still afraid to get in the water.  Her grandparents are big advocates of Black people learning to swim: her grandfather worked as a lifeguard, and her grandmother had a sister who drowned while trying to teach herself to swim.  Grandma and Grandad are understanding, though, not only of Celeste’s concerns but also of her brother’s reluctance to hike in the woods and her cousins’ fears of thunderstorms and driving.  Before long, though, the kids have bigger concerns as weird happenings make them begin to suspect that the house is haunted by the ghost of their great aunt who drowned, a girl who bore a strong resemblance to Celeste.  As the ghost seems to grow more menacing, the four cousins must put aside their differences and work together to survive their time in the house. Includes an author’s note that talks more about how segregation has kept Black people from learning to swim, including her own story.  224 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  A ghost story with just the right amount of scare for the intended audience, with some empowering messages about overcoming fears and being on the right side of history. 

Cons:  The girl on the cover creeped me out so much I had to turn the book face-down before I went to sleep.

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