A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Pram Bellamy can talk to ghosts. She knows that’s weird, that most living people don’t see ghosts everywhere they go, but Pram’s always felt like she straddles the space between the world of the living and the dead. Her best friend is a ghost named Felix, who lives in the garden of the house where Pram lives with her kindly aunts.
But everything changes when Pram goes to school and meets a real, living boy named Clarence, who’s still mourning the loss of his mother. For the first time in her life, Pram has a living friend. Felix is jealous, but Pram thinks she’s never been happier. When Clarence finds out that Pram can see ghosts, he’s convinced that she can help him find his mother’s ghost—and in return, Clarence vows to help Pram down her absent father, whom she’s never met. But Pram’s unusual gift puts her in danger when she catches the attention of the mysterious Lady Savant, and Felix and Clarence will have to team up to save Pram from a fate worse than death.
I almost didn’t read this book because I really, really was not a fan of De Stefano’s young adult series Wither (I know lots of people loved it, but I was not one of them), but I’m so glad I picked it up. A Curious Tale of the In-Between is lyrical and lingering—the story moves fast enough to keep things interesting, which I think is essential for middle grades literature, but it’s full of opportunities to slow down and think deeply about what you’re reading. Pram, Clarence, and Felix are delightful, and I appreciate the way that they all have to learn how to be friends as the book progresses. The book isn’t scary, exactly, but it gets a little eerie in places, and touches on things like death and suicide—you may want to give it a quick read-through (and it really is a quick read) before passing it to your child.