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Priya Mirmira
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July 15, 2010

Shadowed Summer
Author: Sandra Mitchell
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2009)
Pages: 192 (hardcover)

“Wind kissed my ear, cool and soft, and I heard a voice. It sounded like clover tastes, green and new and sweet. Where y’at Iris?”

Are you a fan of ghost stories? Well, if you take one look at “Shadowed Summer,” you can tell it’s a ghost story. This book by Saundra Mitchell is about a 14-year-old girl named Iris, who spends her summer living with her dad in Louisiana and hanging out with her best friend, Collete. It is a perfectly “relaxing” summer until Iris is haunted by a ghost of 17-year-old Elijah Landry, a boy who met a mysterious death many years ago. The main questions are: Why is he back and why is he haunting Iris?

I have read many ghost stories, and this is by far the worst. I absolutely hated this book. The story was dull and the characters were vague. The plot, while somewhat intriguing, was bogged down by unnecessary details and a lack of character development. The story reminded me a great deal of “Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer, but that isn’t a good thing. As in Twilight, most of the writing in “Shadowed Summer” is filler. For example, Iris goes to a café and orders a soda while explaining how much it costs and why it goes well with her chips.

“When I got to the register, I was careful to hold my can instead of setting it down. I didn’t wasn’t to get a dirty look for leaving a ring on his counter. Mr. Ourso returned from the back, scrubbed his hands with a dish towel, and then threw it over his shoulder when he saw me waiting.

‘Got some salt and vinegar chips that go real good with that’ he said, nodding at my soda as he opened the gate to get behind the counter. ‘They’re on sale.’

I hesitated, because I didn’t really like salt and vinegar chips. They were only fifty cents though, and I thought Mr. Ourso might like me a little better if I bought them.”

The truth is, I don’t care what Iris bought or how much it cost or what she was thinking when she did it. What I was aching to know throughout the entire book was “What is she going to do about the ghost?”

Shadowed Summer was really difficult to finish. It was only 192 pages long, but it took me around two months to get through it. I couldn’t connect with any character in any way. Even their personalities seemed flat, like Mitchell was in a rush to get this book finished, edited, and out on the market.

The book did not have a climax, and to me, the climax is the most important part of the story. Without it, the story dangles. The story did have some captivating parts, but instead of elaborating on them, the author ended them abruptly and started on one of the many days where Iris goes to a café and orders this, this, and this and does that, that, and that.

I wish that the author would have made it more interesting by including more character and plot development. She could have probably included and extra 20 or so more pages to give the characters room to develop and learn from their experience. If there was any character development I failed to comprehend and understand it.

The language in this book was simple. If this book had had more elaborate vocabulary, I probably would’ve enjoyed it a bit more because the characters might have had more depth.

If there are any redeeming qualities to this book, I would say that it is easy to understand and you can easily pick out the plot and probably predict what will happen. But having an easy-to-understand plot is not enough to make this a good story. It certainly isn’t enough for me to recommend Shadowed Summer to anyone. 


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