cover image Nora: Maybe a Ghost Story

Nora: Maybe a Ghost Story

Constance C. Greene. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $4.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-15-276895-9

From the first page, masterly comic timing and sharp, witty observations (from a protagonist who could be a cousin to the narrator of the author's Al books) firmly establish that the reader has entered Greene territory. It's been three years since Nora and Patsy's mother died, and though they're eager for their father to be happy, they dread the prospect of his marrying ``The Tooth'' (his intended has a serious overbite). During this period of upheaval and change, Nora alone begins to hear her mother's laughter, feel her touch and find comfort in her spiritual presence. The ``maybe'' of the title expresses Greene's hesitancy to push her story too far from the everyday world. Instead, the mother's ghost serves as a soothing presence for the more sensitive daughter. A wise grandmother helps the girls finally to understand that they must accept their father's right to make choices for himself, just as they themselves are moving toward adulthood and making their own choices of the heart. Believable characters and snappy dialogue keep the pace brisk, and though Greene doesn't delve explicitly into the girls' deep sense of loss, she depicts how they incorporate it into their lives with a poignancy that doesn't call attention to itself. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)