Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women. Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara's morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.
But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly.
Title: Resurrection Girls
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Magical Realism
Author: Ava Morgyn
Hardcover, 272 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2019
Publishing House: Albert Whitman & Co.
ISBN: 0807569429 (ISBN13: 9780807569429)
I WAS DEATH’S SISTER.
SHE WAS MURDERER’S DAUTHTER.
Olivia Foster, a high school student and the main character in this novel has lost her little brother in a drowning accident in the family pool three years earlier. Ever since she hasn't left the house much and the backyard has been off-limits.
In the working-class town where the Fosters live, everyone knows everyone and they all know that Olivia's mom stopped working and now relies on opiates to cope, that her dad is a workaholic and hardly ever is home and that across the street from the Fosters a man committed suicide and hung himself from the rafters.
Family dinners and tv nights are a thing of the past in the Foster home. Take out food and solemn quiet grief of palpable thickness have crept and settled in. Best not to talk at all to avoid any triggers. Certain words are off-limits and communication is about dead.
Out of nowhere, new neighbors move in across the street into the house of the rafters suicide. Purely by social necessity, Olivia is sent across the street to welcome the new family, a peculiar bunch of three women of three generations.
Kara Hallas is around Olivia's age but unabashedly different from her. They actually couldn't be more different, from their physique on the outside to the unseen on the inside. Yet, a friendship develops that keeps challenging Olivia to inch completely out of her comfort zone. Every moment with Kara is an adventure of some sort or a challenge of integrity and trust. As Olivia joins Kara in writing letters to death row inmates, they call themselves the Resurrection Girls.
Prescott, a childhood friend of Olivia's enters the picture early on as well in their adventures. The three of them make a pretty good team, yet some tensions are rising. Things are fine until Kara misuses Olivia's trust and it puts her back into a hole after the trio just solved a mystery together.
Edging closer and closer to trouble, a dangerous situation is about to jeopardize their lives and friendship until one of them makes a brave move.
Hair raising! This novel was amazingly engaging and one of my favorites of the year. Recommended for ages 13+, it delves into themes of family, friendships, depression, substance abuse, promiscuity and the experience of loss.
You may think it to be a dull read, but it absolutely was the opposite of it. What made this exceptional novel so readable was the author’s use of magical realism to guide the main character along, hence awakening her senses by inserting Kara's bewitching character alongside Olivia.
The grieving process after loss to the experience of joy and love again isn't' easy or a speedy one. There are stages at which one stumbles, falls, gives up, hides out, etc before getting any better. Everyone grieves differently too, which is another point this novel shows very clearly in the case of Olivia's parents.
The message though is clear: under all the layers of grief, there still is hope, love, and unity that can be found, rescued and tended too.
Kara's character was the driving force for Olivia to move on and acknowledge that her entire family is broken by loss. In several passages, the author's ability to draw from the toolbox inventory to describe loss rendered me speechless. It was right on and I could not have put any of it into words.
This novel is rated for ages 13+ though I'd say it's suited for a mature teenager. I am being cautiously conservative with that.
If you have the chance to read this novel, go for it. It is really, really good, fast-paced, engaging and heartfelt.
I received a physical Arc from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Thank you so much for my review copy.