Thursday, September 7, 2017

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Publisher: Clarion
Date of publication:

Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie's friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.

This was a random audio pick from my library.  I hadn't really read any middle grade books in a while, so I figured I'd give it a shot.  One for Sorrow takes place during the influenza epidemic of 1918.  The main character, Anna, has just started a new school.  Elsie is a girl who is extremely disliked and latches on to Anna saying they will be best friends forever.  The problem is that Elsie is not a very nice person and Anna wants to fit in with the popular crowd.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I definitely thought is was a fairly creepy book, especially toward the second half of the book.  However, I had a hard time liking any of the characters.  Elsie is definitely an abused child who acts out because of it.  She is also bullied daily by the mean girls at the school.  Anna ends up falling in with the mean girl crowd and becomes just as horrible as the rest of them.  So, when Elsie dies because of the flu, one has to wonder if she is really haunting the girls, or are they just grappling with their own guilt over how they treated her.

The book is short and ultimately, an enjoyable read. It's well written and kept me engaged. However, I wonder at the age level at which this book is being marketed.  It's a pretty dark book and I think older YA readers might appreciate it more.  At any rate, it's worth a read. 

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