cover image The Haunted House Project

The Haunted House Project

Tricia Clasen. Sky Pony, $15.99 (228p) ISBN 978-1-5107-0712-2

Writing in the candid voice of a 13-year-old whose mother recently died in a car accident, debut novelist Clasen offers a heartrending portrait of a family coping with sudden and enormous loss. As Andie’s unemployed father buries his grief in alcohol and gambling, Andie worries about her older sister, who works long shifts as a waitress and seems to have shelved her college aspirations. Realizing that her mother “was the glue, and without her, maybe we’ll never stick together again,” Andie resolves to pull her family back together again by convincing her father and sister (and, to a degree, herself) that her mother’s ghost is haunting their home. Unsurprisingly, her well-intentioned tactics—spraying perfume, playing music, writing a message in dust—are more unsettling than comforting, yet they trigger honest conversation that lets the family begin to heal. Clasen steers clear of melodrama, anchoring the story with authentic characters and emotions. Other affecting threads of the plot include the solace Andie finds in her mother’s journals and her new friendship with a geeky, big-hearted boy. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (Oct.)