High heels, a patch of ice, a train… Chelsea’s life ended abruptly and not in a pretty way. But she won’t let death stop her from attending her brother’s wedding. Which means she needs to get from New York (an interesting place to be a ghost in, fyi) to San Francisco.
Being a spirit, she can’t take a plane nor a car, which go right through her, so she’ll have to walk (hover?) there. Two friends join her on her trip: Carmen, who died decades earlier and is sort of mentoring her into ghosthood, and Cyndricka, a homeless mute Black mime who, for some reason, can see and communicate with ghosts even though she’s not dead.
The relationship between the three travelers is both incredibly unusual and plausible. On their way to California, they also meet the cutest cat, other ghosts and living people, some good, some bad, or even dangerous. I loved Jamie, who sounds like the sweetest ghost ever even without a face. That’s one of the things I loved best about this novel, how the undead keep the appearance they had when they died and are not all ethereally perfect beings.
Despite the subject, there’s nothing heavy about the story, it’s more subtle and penetrating. I don’t think I can explain why I loved this book (yet another excellent debut) so much without giving too much away. It’s not about twists and surprises, it’s all about the way the feelings are built up, how they grow. Like most road trips (at least in books and movies), this one is both a journey cross-country and to themselves.
I took forever to get to this novel (dead people, anxiety, sadness…) and that was stupid of me since it’s made it straight to my favourite-books-of-the-year list. It’s one of the most poetic and charming novels I’ve read. It’s tender and bittersweet, it made me cry and smile at the same time.
The author mentions “the blessing of small miracles” at one point, and that’s exactly what this novel is.