cover image One for Sorrow

One for Sorrow

Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-544-81809-5

A 12-year-old grapples with friendships, vengeful spirits, and the Spanish Flu epidemic in Hahn’s (Took) chilling ghost story. In 1918, WWI rages but Annie Browne is most concerned about fitting into her new school outside Baltimore, the Pearce Academy for Girls. She meets Elsie Schneider on her first day, who proclaims the pair will be best friends, but no one at Pearce likes Elsie, labeling her a tattletale and liar. Annie, whose struggles with peer pressure throughout the novel are admirably complex, soon abandons Elsie for another group of friends, even joining in the teasing and name calling (Elsie’s father is German, which doesn’t help). When Elsie dies suddenly of the Spanish Flu that’s sweeping the city, Annie is both guilty and relieved—until Elsie returns as a ghost. If Elsie was a pest when she was alive, it’s nothing compared to her ghostly antics, which take a toll on Annie, who is sent to a convalescent home. Hahn’s story is characteristically steeped in eerie atmosphere, and the novel’s blend of historical drama, the supernatural, and the intricacies of adolescent friendship is a gripping combination. Ages 10–12. (July)