Ghost Summer: Stories

Tananarive Due. Prime (prime-books.com), $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-60701-453-9
In these extraordinary tales, American Book Award–winner Due (My Soul to Take) uses a clear-eyed view of history to explain (but never excuse) the present. Sexual predators are recast as lake creatures (“The Lake”), and werewolves choose cosmetic treatment to disguise their monthly changes (“Aftermoon”); Due craftily employs these shape-shifters to explore how humans embrace transformations in ourselves and one another, even when the result is monstrous. Ghosts abound, bringing past and present into liberating contact. In the title novella, a family under threat of divorce finds reunion through a boy’s ghost hunt, which exposes the historical tragedy splitting the Florida town in which they summer. Childhood acts as a prism for varied emotions, encouraging readers to empathize with a weary mother who allows a well-behaved spirit to possess her unruly child “just for the summer” (“Summer”). Pandemic disease in “Patient Zero” and zombie apocalypse in “Danger Word” (the latter coauthored by Due’s husband and frequent collaborator, Steven Barnes) heartbreakingly overwhelm adults’ best efforts to protect the young. Even facing the end of the world and what comes after it, Due remains in control, carefully unveiling characters’ thoughts and feelings to her enthralled readers. Nalo Hopkinson provides an introduction; Barnes contributes an afterword. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/20/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
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