The Ghost’s Child

hartnettThe Ghost’s Child (2008)
Sonya Hartnett
176 pages
Young Adult Fiction

Matilda, an elderly woman, comes home one afternoon to find a young boy sitting in her living room waiting for her. She has no idea who he is or what he wants. As they sit down for tea, the boy asks Matilda about the picture of her as a young girl onĀ  her boat.

Matilda tells the story of her childhood and growing up as a young girl named Maddy. She was the daughter of a materialistic mother and a father who had to divide himself into two different people: the “Iron-man”, an important and wealthy member of the community who only wants to make money and “Daddy”, a man who loves his daughter and only wants her to be happy.

Matilda describes her childhood self as

an over-lookable child, doubtful and reluctant in her dealings with others, mousey as a mouse. She was easily hurt, deceived and dispirited.

After a year-long journey with her father all over the world to experience life for the first time, Maddy comes back changed and more sure of herself.

Soon she falls in love with a mysterious boy named Feather. They fall in love and though Feather wants to make Maddy happy, one day he disappears to the horizon and a place called The Island of Stillness. Unable to let Feather go, Matty learns to sail and goes off on an adventure to ask Feather for the answer to the only question she has. . .

I really enjoyed reading this book. The Ghost’s Child is a book that has to be read slowly. The book isn’t really plot-driven but focuses more on character-building: Matilda as an old woman and as a young girl named Maddy. One of my favorite things about this book was the language. There were so many passages that I marked to read again later.

I love this passage by Matilda on love:

The world changes when something in it is loved. Words become feeble. Colors glow. Every moment vibrates with possible importance. And the heart that loves wonders how it live, in the past, without loving-and it will live now, now that it loves.

What I didn’t like were the few times that were unbelievable. Maddy as a child was a little too mature. She understood too much about life though she hadn’t experience life yet. Here’s a passage from Maddy as a child:

In the black of night, however, she was wrung with fear. She did not want to be uncaring, and uncared-for. She did not want to spend her whole life taking steps in the darkest, the coldest, the most lonely direction. Yet how, she wondered, does one craft sturdy happiness out of something as important, as complicated, as unrepeatable and as easily damaged as a life?

A beautiful passage but from a child? The Ghost’s Child has few faults and all can easily be overlooked. This is a great fable about the lessons of love and letting go, beauty, and having the courage to live life as you see fit.

Highly recommended.

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11 thoughts on “The Ghost’s Child

  1. This sounds absolutely beautiful. I love those passages, especially the last one. You’re right, it’s not something a child would be likely to write, but I think I could overlook that too.

  2. Fab review. I read it and got sucked in right away. I want to know what their relationship is to each other. Are they the same person?

  3. Reading about children who acts a bit too mature for their age is becoming sort of the norm. But usually, if the story and the language is worth it, I’m not too bothered by it.
    I set my eye on this one ever since it came out here, it looked like it could be really good, and it sounds like it is!

  4. That’s a beautiful passage, the one on love. It makes me want to go out and pick this book up right away!

    How do you want to do the read-along for Grapes of Wrath? Do you just want to come up with a couple questions and then we an both answer them?

  5. Wonderful review. I like the passages you selected. Both are beautiful, but I agree that a child would probably not say the latter, you’re right. I am glad that the story was good enough to overlook this, though.

  6. This sounds wonderful, the passages seem to have such a dreamy quality. Thanks for the great review and all the gorgeous quotes.

  7. one on my favorite books of all time…maddy as a girl reminds me of me. but when I read this book, I cried a lot xD I also like the ending of the book too. it doesn’t tell you exactly what happens, so you have to kind of construct your own theory

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