Book Review - The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty

Wednesday August 18, 2010

The Ghosts of Ashbury High 
by Jaclyn Moriarty
Scholastic Press
June 2010
Goodreads Summary: This is the story of Amelia and Riley, bad kids from bad Brookfield High who have transferred to Ashbury High for their final year. They've been in love since they were fourteen, they go out dancing every night, and sleep through school all day. And Ashbury can't get enough of them. 

Everyone's trying to get their attention; even teachers are dressing differently, trying to make their classes more interesting. Everyone wants to be cooler, tougher, funnier, hoping to be invited into their cool, self-contained world.

But they don't know that all Amelia can think about is her past -- an idyllic time before she ran away from home. Riley thinks he's losing her to the past, maybe even to a place further back in time. He turns to the students of Ashbury for help, and things get much, much worse.

In the tradition of the gothic novel, this is a story about ghosts, secrets, madness, passion, locked doors, femmes fatales, and that terrifying moment in the final year of high school when you realise that the future's come to get you.

Review: The author has brought back Emily and Lydia from The Year of Secret Assignments to narrate their senior year of high school along with Toby and Riley... two boys and fellow classmates at Ashbury High.

Most of the school and especially Emily has become obsessed with the schools new mysterious "it" couple Amelia and Riley who seem to have dark and mysterious pasts. All of this plays well into their Gothic Fiction class where the students must write about things such as first impressions (mainly on the aforementioned new couple.) Then writing term 2 as a ghost story which of course is seen differently from each of the students perspectives.

The story itself is told through a combination of faculty-meeting minutes, instant messages, e-mails, blog entries and student essays. With a fair amount of humor and the mystery of nobody being exactly who you thought they were will keep readers turning the me I kept second guessing myself and had it totally wrong in the end! A haunting in the music rooms and a student possibly possessed by an Irish convict are just a few of the quirky Gothic elements that made this an enjoyable read.

Moriarty is an excellent writer and through all the various entertaining elements of this book its subtle underlying messages of socioeconomic stereotypes, the scary jump from adolescence into adulthood and the power of friendship shine through this gem of a book. Recommended!

Best suited for 8th grade and up


Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I've had this one in my hands several times while at Borders, but I just never knew. I don't think it's one I could put in my classroom library. This might be one I buy for the Nook.