Friday, September 10, 2010

Teen/YA Review: Ruined

I thoroughly enjoyed the teen ghost story, Ruined by Paula Morris, partly because it is set in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities (we used to live there) and partly because it’s a good mystery with plenty of unexpected twists.

Fifteen-year old Rebecca lives with her Dad in New York City and can’t imagine living anywhere else.  When her Dad has to travel to China for an extended business trip, he sends her to stay in New Orleans for six months with an old family friend who Rebecca refers to as Aunt Claudia.  Being yanked out of her familiar surroundings in the middle of the school year and sent far from her friends is bad enough, but Rebecca finds that New Orleans is like a whole different world (as anyone discovers when they travel there!).  Aunt Claudia picks her up at the airport:

“You work in the French Quarter, right?” asked Rebecca.  Her father had given her a few pieces of information, in his usual scattered way.  He’d been completely distracted for the past two weeks, ever since he announced that he was pulling her out of school and sending her to the Deep, Deep South for months on end.

“In Jackson Square.” Aunt Claudia nodded, breathless with the exertion of walking to the one baggage carousel surrounded by waiting passengers.  “I read tarot cards.  It was a quiet summer, but things are starting to pick up again.  Tourists and conventions and all that.”

“Oh,” said Rebecca.  Suddenly her aunt’s outfit was making sense: It was her office wear, in a way.  Though why her decidedly nonsuperstitious dad thought Aunt Claudia would be an ideal guardian was even more of a mystery.

That’s not the only mystery Rebecca encounters in her new city.  In the midst of adjusting to strange foods, unfamiliar customs, and a new private school filled with snooty rich kids, Rebecca finally meets a friend late one night in Lafayette Cemetery, down the street from her aunt’s house.  Her new friend, Lisette, is a ghost. 

As Rebecca’s new classmates keep her in the role of the outcast, she is drawn deeper into the secrets surrounding both them and Lisette and feels that there really is no live person that she can trust, with the possible exception of Anton Grey.  But isn’t he just another stuck-up rich kid?

The unpredictable twists and turns of this story incorporate real history into tales of ghosts and ancient curses.  Although I found some of the plot elements came together a bit too neatly, I mostly enjoyed the story and its setting.  As is often the case, New Orleans itself is like an extra character in this novel, with rich details of its customs, foods, and idiosyncrasies that made me homesick!  I was especially fascinated with the descriptions of the age-old customs surrounding the Mardi Gras balls and parades that are such a big part of Rebecca’s classmates’ lives.   Teens are sure to enjoy this unique novel that combines history, romance, suspense, and the supernatural in an exotic setting.

If you enjoyed this book as much as I did, you might want to visit the author’s blog, where she has unfortunately recently announced that she will soon be leaving New Orleans.

309 pages, Point (an imprint of Scholastic)

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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This book is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle.


Jan von Harz said...

Wow terrific review. I had not heard about this novel until today so I am really intrigued. It sounds like something I would really enjoy. Thanks for turning me on to this one.

Heidi V said...

I like the cover of this book and I have been wanting to read it thanks for the review ti sounds like a good one!