The Ghosts of Rose Hill

R.M. Romero. Peachtree Teen, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-68263-338-0

An intoxicating blend of the contemporary and otherworldly, Romero’s (The Dollmaker of Krakow) layered novel in verse interlaces romance and ghost story with an exploration of cultural identity, folklore, and history. The parents of Miami Beach–born Ilana each fled from communism: her father from then-Czechoslovakia, and her Jewish mother from Cuba following her own family’s flight from Spain. Ilana’s passion for the violin and social life worry them, so they “exile” the 16-year-old to Prague for the summer, to stay with her artist aunt, Žofie, and study for the SAT. Instead, Ilana finds and begins tending a deserted Jewish cemetery on the hill behind Žofie’s cottage, where she meets—and falls in love with—the blue-eyed ghost of 16-year-old Benjamin, who is Jewish. Wandering Prague with him, Ilana deepens her understanding of “what it’s like to be Jewish/ in Europe./ Every beautiful thing/ has horror buried under it.” Lured back to the violin by a mysterious older German musician who cares for Benjamin and three younger ghosts, she strengthens her commitment to her art—and grows tempted by an invitation to remain in Prague. In lyrical, immersive language that’s both contemporary and ageless, Romero brings vivid life to the teenagers’ powerful romance. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency. (May)
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