Gr 8 Up-"I'm in a cupboard. A dark cupboard, and it's too small for me. The walls press against my flesh-.Through a chink of light where the door is barely open, I think I can hear voices. So many voices. Help me!" These are the unspoken words of Hal's sister Charley, lying in a coma ever since the previous summer's late-night surfing accident on a Cornwall beach. Now it is July once again and Hal's family is off to Brackinton Haven for their annual holiday, leaving Charley behind for the first time. Torn between his anger at his sister for devastating the family and his desire to discover exactly what happened, Hal hears her voice more and more often. As he gets to know the surfer crowd that Charley hung out with and begins a romance with the younger sister of Charley's boyfriend, Hal slowly begins to unravel the mystery. Told in a series of episodes with headings such as "Charley. Then," "Charley. Hospital. Now," and "Hal. Graveyard. Now," the narrative skillfully shifts in time and point of view. Readers of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) and Peter Dickinson's Eva (Delacorte, 1989) will be intrigued by Dogar's exploration of such questions as: Where exactly is a person when she no longer inhabits her earthly body? Can she communicate with those she has left behind? Both suspenseful and thoughtful, action packed and atmospheric, this novel is compelling and memorable.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gothic romance fans will eagerly dive into this eerie debut novel, which traces the ethereal connection between Hal, a British teen, and his comatose older sister, Charley. While 15-year-old Charley hovers between life and death in a hospital, her body-kept alive by machines-remains motionless, but her mind is active ("It's as though the Earth is holding me down, packed tight in gravity," she laments). Meanwhile, Hal seems able to read some of his sister's thoughts. His feeling that Charley is trying to communicate with him grows stronger once he returns to the family's vacation house, where Charley's nearly lifeless body washed up on the shore the previous summer. ("From somewhere far away, I think I can hear... her hospital breath, falling over me in waves," says he). At the same time that Hal feels a burning urgency to solve the mystery of his sister's accident, he finds himself attracted to freckle-faced Jackie, whose brother may hold the key to what happened to Charley in the sea. A series of flashbacks convey the perspectives of both Hal and Charley, as Dogar artistically parallels two budding romances. Hal's infatuation with Jackie neatly mirrors the relationship Charley had with Jackie's brother, Pete. Although foreshadowing weighs heavily on the story line and Charley's frequent bemoanings about being trapped inside her body sometimes veer towards melodrama, teens intrigued by supernatural events will likely not be bothered by the book's less than subtle aspects. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.