cover image The Forgotten Girl

The Forgotten Girl

India Hill Brown. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-338-31724-4

Both historically and culturally relevant, Brown’s thoughtful ghost story explores the legacy of racism through segregation. In North Carolina, Iris and her best friend Daniel, both African-American, sneak out one night to play in just-fallen snow, only to stumble upon the abandoned grave of Avery Moore, who died in 1956 at their current age: 11. After repeatedly finding her bedroom window open, Iris sees “the shimmering, gray shadow of a girl emerging from her window.” When Iris and Daniel decide to conduct their social studies project on abandoned graves, they find that Avery’s is part of an entire segregated black cemetery that has faded from history. Iris struggles with erasure at school and getting less attention than her sibling at home, ideas that intertwine as Avery’s ghost emerges and seeks recognition. Through Daniel’s close-knit family—his single mother and superstitious grandmother, both coping with his father’s death—the novel also explores the multifaceted nature of grief alongside close childhood friendships and the historical significance of racism. Although secondary characters can feel a bit one-dimensional, the story is robust enough to balance it out, making this a solid debut in which the horrors are both historical and spectral. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Nov.) [/em]