Jennings, Richard W. 2009. Ghost Town. Houghton Mifflin. 165 pages.
"Well, I guess that makes it official," I said to Chief Leopard Frog.
Spencer Honesty is a loner. Not so much by choice either. See, that's what happens when you're the only kid left in town. Paisley, Kansas, is on its way to being a ghost town. Spencer and his mom make for a population of two. She's got a secure job working for the U.S. Postal Service.
He's got an imaginary friend, an Indian chief, who excels in whittling "good" luck charms (talismans) and writing poetry--bad poetry. And he's got his father's old camera. So with weekly visits to the newest Wal-Mart (a couple of hours away), he's got his film and batteries and a purpose for the long summer days.
Ghost Town is an odd little book. Quirky. Maybe a touch of magic realism? Is that what you call it? You see his father's camera is magical. It captures images from the past. So he never knows who is going to be in his shots. Sometimes it's his dead father. Sometimes its the girl next door. "Ghosts" are not in every shot. (And they're not always ghosts--sometimes it's just folks that have moved away from the town.) And it's really nothing he can control directly. He doesn't know this magic bit until his developed pictures start coming back to him. And that's just the beginning...
I don't know how to describe this one really. It's odd and quirky. Unique too. I liked parts of it. Loved that his mom struck up a friendship with a delivery man (can't remember if it's FedEx or UPS). Enjoyed that this is a good boyish adventure rags-to-riches pure wish fulfillment type story. Is it believable? No, but I don't think it was meant to be. It's a silly book that is fun.
Eva wanted to know if there were real ghosts in Ghost Town. Yes and no. Mostly no. His magic camera does take pictures of people who are no longer there. But most of the "no longer there" candid shots are of people still living--they're just living somewhere else. These are snapshots of the past: pictures of people brushing their teeth, pictures of people picking up laundry (and the like), just people doing ordinary things. Things that you wouldn't ever really think are photo-worthy. The one exception being the few photos he gets of his dead father.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews