Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

I loved Laurie Notaro’s first books, memoirs, so I was really excited when Paul brought this prepub of her new fiction novel.  Imagine my further delight to find it was about one of my favorite things–happy ghost stories!  My like of this category can best be described by mentioning a short lived YA series called Teen Angels, that I loved. Oh, and I was an adult reading it.  So this category would be people die and then they experience the afterlife and there are all sorts of details about the afterlife that I just eat up and love to believe are real.  Other books in this category are David Vs. God by Mary Pearson, and at the other end (afterlife, but a more sensitive story, not hijinks, more thoughtful about those left behind, etc.) The Heavenly Village by Cynthia Rylant (beautiful, highly recommend), Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, and Passage by Connie Willis.

In Spooky Little Girl Lucy is having a bizarre run of dreadful luck: her fiancee dumps her without explanation and changes the locks on their house (rendering her homeless and separated from her beloved dog), she loses her job, and she’s just blown all her money on a horrible vacation.  And then to top it all off, she gets hit by a bus and dies. Lucy is very surprised to wake up and find herself in a class called Sudden Death.  Turns out she and her classmates have all had sudden unexpected deaths (and meeting them all there, as they are just being told they are dead, is an exceptionally hilarious part of the book) and are now in “school” to learn how to be ghosts so that they might complete assignments on earth before being permitted to enter “The State” (aka heaven.) As a ghost Lucy is able to haunt her friends and ex-fiance and try to figure out exactly how everything seemed to go all wrong in the last few days of her life.

Hilarious. I loved it. I should also say that it’s not just yuk-yuk all the time-Lucy is a sympathetic character and I felt sad for her on many instances throughout the book. I think, though, that you have to tell a story like with this loads of humor because otherwise you have to acknowledge that a young person has just died, and that’s just too sad.  Notable also for the fact that I unwisely decided to stay up until 1:30am so that I could finish reading it and then the next night paid for it be falling asleep at 9:15pm.

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