Author: Richard Peck
Blossom Culp, vol. 1
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Alexander has never been one to believe much in ghosts, but an encounter he had in 1913 (the year he turned 13 himself) was one that couldn’t help but change his mind in that regard. His family was one of the up-and-coming social climbers in Bluff City, new money out looking to impress–or at least his mother was. And his sister Lucille was not averse to jumping right in with her. Alexander though, he mostly tried to stay out of folks’ attention. That wasn’t so easy though after his classmate Blossom Culp–a girl that he’d never particularly noticed before–said he was perceptive. To ghosts, that is. And that he had a ghost in the big barn out back. It was true, too, and the events that followed brought Alexander and the ghost to national attention. Although Blossom might have been the one to profit most from the affair. . . .
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it often probably, but I love Richard Peck’s writing. The Ghost Belonged to Me was particularly interesting in that it combined his ghost stories with his humorous slice-of-life stories set in the Midwest around the turn of the twentieth century. And it somehow does both brilliantly! There’s a certain chill to Alexander’s ghostly encounters, although they’re mixed with a compassion for the dead girl whose ghost he meets and for her story. But more than scary, this book is immensely funny. Peck has this incredible knack for crafting characters who are, well, characters. They’re full of quirks that, combined with circumstances, are absolutely hilarious–and the understatement used at points only serves to amplify the underlying humor. Added to that, there’s a lot of solid history woven in so subtly that you don’t really realize how much you’re learning. And of course, the entire tale is told in Alexander’s unique voice, complete with colloquialisms and occasional grammatical lapses; it’s very well done and adds a lot to the writing. I would definitely recommend The Ghost Belonged to Me to anyone (upper elementary and up) who is interested in this time period, as well as to anyone who just enjoys an entertaining, funny story.