Saturday, December 01, 2007

Book Review: The Ghost in Allie's Pool

The Ghost in Allie's Pool
by Sari Bodi

The Ghost in Allie's Pool is a 2007 Cybils nominee.

Allie doesn't even know her best friend Marissa anymore. Marissa has started hanging out with the popular girls, and she's become obsessed with being cool. Allie isn't cool enough for her anymore. Marissa and her new friends Crystal and Suzanne ditch Allie when they can, and when they can't, they're just mean to her.

Allie is badly in need of a friend when, in the middle of researching a paper for school about her Pilgrim ancestors, Allie meets the ghost of a Pilgrim named Dorothy May. Dorothy May isn't one of Allie's ancestors, but in a way Allie wouldn't exist if it weren't for Dorothy May: Dorothy May killed herself by jumping off of the Mayflower, and her widowed husband remarried, becoming Allie's ancestor. As Allie navigates the perilous waters of middle school, Dorothy May appears when needed and becomes a friend to Allie, helping her deal with her feelings of betrayal, fear, loneliness, and attraction for one of the boys in her class, and helping her to find the courage to stand up to the bullies. Allie, in turn, helps Dorothy May to work through the issues that she was unable to deal with in life.

The Ghost in Allie's Pool is an engaging story with realistic teen characters that ring true. It has a little bit of something for everyone: a little fantasy, a little middle-school realism, and a little bit of history. I don't have a lot of experience with middle school today, but the characters and situations seem believable. The bullying - including cyber-bullying -is shocking but not over the top, and is handled sensitively. Tweens in middle-school will find this an entertaining and relevant story. An author's note at the end explains what's real in the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

As a homeschooling parent, it's hard for me to believe that this kind of bullying can happen in school, yet from stories that I've heard, it does. One thing that The Ghost in Allie's Pool really brought out for me is that victims of bullying may not feel that they can go to an adult for help, and may, in fact, go to great lengths to protect their tormentors. It's up to the adults in their lives then - parents and teachers - to be aware of what's going on and to protect the children. No child should have to suffer this kind of thing.

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