Tuesday 4 October 2016

Haunt Me by Liz Kessler

Haunt Me

Joe wakes up from a deep sleep to see his family leave in a removals van. Where they've gone, he has no idea. Erin moves house and instantly feels at home in her new room. Even if it appears she isn't the only one living in it. Bit by bit, Erin and Joe discover that they have somehow found a way across the ultimate divide - life and death. Bound by their backgrounds, a love of poetry and their growing feelings for each other, they are determined to find a way to be together.

Joe's brother, Olly, never cared much for poetry. He was always too busy being king of the school - but that all changed when Joe died. And when an encounter in the school corridor brings him face to face with Erin, he realises how different things really are - including the kind of girl he falls for.

Two brothers. Two choices. Will Erin's decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she is lost forever?

You know when you are really excited for a book but honestly so scared you won't like it? Yeah, I had that reading this. I saved it for autumn even though I got a copy in July because ghosts are perfect for Halloween reading. And I might have read it at the wrong time, right after the latest Lockwood and Co which has very different kind of ghosts! But I still really liked it; the writing was quite soft and flowy, built up this traditional romantic atmosphere but had this undercurrent of issues.

It was a slow start, not a lot happens but get a very good sense of the characters, especially Erin. And yet, the love story felt rushed. Time lapsed a little to skip ahead to the good parts which means we didn't really feel Erin and Joe fall in love, it just... was. 

Joe’s monologue as he struggles to come to terms with what he is now, not being able to touch or feel anything, not remembering how he died, was pretty amazing. How one of the first things he remembered was his relationship with his brother, and then the therapeutic way he wrote poems but kept them hidden, 
revealed a lot about his character and what sort of person he was before he died. I didn't always like the way he was with Erin but I really appreciated the difficulties he had with his identity without his memories; very interesting.

Like I said, the insta-love almost ruined things for me but I really liked the different style love triangle, as Erin is drawn to Joe's brother Olly. Now their love story I really supported; it was adorable and tender and tentative. They really got to know each other without previous baggage and I think did them both good.

Alongside the super-cute romance, Kessler dealt with quite heavy issues – bullying, self-harm, drugs among others – accumulating into that finale where Erin feels so hopeless that she doesn’t see any other way out. All the drama was in the second half and it was a really unique coming of age story with first loves, death and grief, and true friendship. Definitely one to remember and my new favourite of Kessler's. 

Published 6th October 2016 by Orion. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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