Publication Date: January 6, 2015

A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year

Overview:  West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

My Ideation: This is a new author for me.  I loved the book!  The story goes between the year 1908 and present.  Sara Harrison Shea’s diary has been found in the house she grew up in.  She, of course, is deceased, but her story lives on through Ruthie who currently lives in the home with her mother and sister.

This story was tough to put down.  There were twists throughout the book.  It was a definite ghost story.  The characters were likeable and intriguing.  I felt myself feeling tearful at times.  McMahon’s descriptions were very real-to-life and made me feel as though I was actually seeing what she was describing.

Author’s Information:  I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness — I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella. These days, we’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure.

Jennifer McMahon

Summation: 4/5

I was not compensated for this review.  I simply enjoyed the book and wanted to share it.

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