Review by: Ivy M.

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“I was foolish in my belief that grief was a straightforward thing. I thought the first wave would hit, and gradually the feelings of sadness and desperation would slip away until I found myself normal again. But I was so very wrong.”

Mason Deaver

Liam’s older brother Ethan is dead. Ethan was eighteen and on track to become a successful baseball player. Liam is sixteen and doesn’t feel like he’s on track to anything, especially now. Ethan’s death fractures Liam’s relationship with their parents and their best friends while bringing them closer to their brother’s best friend, Marcus. The novel follows Liam as he works to pick up the pieces and keep living after the tragedy. Everything happens for a reason, right?

The Ghosts We Keep is a short novel that uses its length perfectly. I dislike YA novels that include contrivances just to up the page count and this novel is completely free of them. It hits all the right points and leads to a hopeful and satisfactory ending, spending most of its time (appropriately in my opinion) exploring its main character rather than trying to instigate an unnecessary plot.

There aren’t many YA novels that deal with grief, and most of them focus on the death of romantic partners or friends. The Ghosts We Keep is about the death of a sibling and you can feel it. The death of someone so close to you, especially as a teenager, is a uniquely heart-wrenching tragedy and I was impressed with how Deaver handled it here.

“The death of someone so close to you, especially as a teenager, is a uniquely heart-wrenching tragedy and I was impressed with how Deaver handled it here…”

Overall, The Ghosts We Keep is a compassionate book that brought me down just as much as it lifted me up. The step into Liam’s life was unfiltered and relatable, with Deaver’s attention to detail adding a perfect cascade of characterization and environment. The novel may be heavy but it is a fully worthwhile experience, and I’m sure any reader will find something to connect to.

Rating: four/five

For fans of: The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson