Note: I received a digital copy of The Castle Blues Quake from Masquerade Tours for review consideration.
In this book, Pepper Connelly has just moved with her family from New York City to Santa Cruz, California. Twelve-year-old Pepper finds it difficult to adjust to her new home and her loneliness, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Corey, she starts to think that maybe she has found a new friend. What Pepper doesn’t know (but the reader does, from the very beginning, so this isn’t a spoiler!) is that Corey is actually a ghost. Corey died in a recent earthquake at Castle Blues, and he recruits Pepper to help him contact Boppie, his grandfather, before he crosses over to the other side. Pepper doesn’t realize that she is the only one who can see Corey (everyone else sees either a ghostly figure or just a flash of light), and she agrees to help him and protect him.
The Castle Blues Quake is all about friendship–is it possible to keep friendships strong when you move away? Can you be friends with someone who will undoubtedly move on after you help him reach his goal? Can a weird library girl who dresses in layers of thrift store clothing really become a new friend? Pepper struggles with all of these questions in a very sweet and realistic way. As someone who made a couple of cross-country moves in her childhood, I understand these emotions and questions, and reading about them brought back the feelings that followed me every time my family moved. It is as difficult to hold on to old friendships as it is to make new ones, but somehow I always muddled through, and so does Pepper.
I really enjoyed the exploration of friendship in this book, as well as the matter-of-fact portrayal of the supernatural aspects (of course, the fact that Corey is a ghost, but also the occasional flashbacks that Pepper gets about the night of the earthquake, and so on). Most of the chapters are narrated by Pepper, but a few are narrated by Corey, so we get a different voice as well as a different point of view, and we get to see Corey’s life with Boppie before the earthquake, as they played the blues all across the country. The few lines of poetry that begin each of the chapters were just a little silly, but that might be just because I’m not exactly the target age group for this book… On the whole, this was a very enjoyable book about friendship, family, blues music, reunions, and, yes, ghosts.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good