A Girl, a Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills

Lizabeth Zindel, Author
Lizabeth Zindel, Viking, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-670-01159-9
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-44430-6
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Something is rotten in the state of California. In this update of Shakespeare's Hamlet, when Holly returns home to Los Angeles on Christmas break from her East Coast prep school, she has to face the reality that her father is dating her mother's tacky sister, Claudia, only months after her mother's unexpected death. Holly is horrified at her father and naturally thinks badly of Claudia, but after a visit from her mother's ghost, she suspects that Claudia may have murdered her sister so she could move in on Holly's father and her mother's production company. Given Hollywood's noirish history, the setting is a natural for this reimagining, as Zindel (The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies) mixes pop culture references and talk of Hollywood movers and shakers into the paranormally inflected mystery. Zindel's twist ending is affecting and entirely her own, but some choices (Holly bemoaning her inability to avenge her mother's death while in a bathroom stall; the drag performances in the video Holly uses to suggest Claudia's guilt) seem played for laughs and lessen its emotional impact. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
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