Ghost Girl: A Blue Ridge Mountain Story

 /   /  By Sarah Day Cymrot, 12
Stone Soup Magazine
July/August 2017

By Delia Ray, Reviewed by Sarah Day Cymrot

Ghost Girl book cover

Ghost Girl: A Blue Ridge Mountain Story, by Delia Ray;
Clarion Books: New York, 2016; $6.99

“I stopped cold, then turned around real slow. ‘What did you say?’ I asked. A big grin spread out over Dewey’s wide face. ‘I said, the Hoovers say they’re gonna build us a school.’

Set in 1930, Ghost Girl takes place on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia. The main character, Miss April Sloane, is an eleven-year-old girl dubbed ghost girl because of her white skin and hair, who lives an almost ordinary life after her brother dies in a freak accident. But when President Hoover and his family move into a vacation home in the mountains and invite Miss Christine Vest, a kind, smart young lady, to teach twenty-two uneducated kids in the new school, everything turns topsy-turvy.

In this fast-paced novel based on real letters and newspaper clippings about the school, author Delia Ray guides us through April Sloane’s ups and downs, her hardships and successes, and her realization of who she really is.Even though April’s life is very different from mine, I was transported to her world in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a world with no formal education and not much money. I felt like I was with April and her dad, doing chores and telling stories. I was enchanted by the author’s descriptions of the brisk cool mountain air, the dewy morning grass, and the towering maple trees.

The creation of the president’s Mountain School starts out looking like it is going to give kids a chance to thrive and be educated, but it turns out to be much more complicated.From the beginning, April’s mom does not want her to go to school so her daughter can stay home to do more chores. I think the mom is still grieving for her son and wants to keep April, her last child, safe and to herself. When April comes home from school every day, overflowing with love for her new teacher, April’s mom pushes her away.The jealousy leads to discord, not only with her teacher, but also between mother and daughter.

This year, I am going to school for the first time after homeschooling for six years. Like April, I am super excited, but it means that I won’t be able to spend as much time with my family, and I will not have the control that I used to have over my schedule. Now, of course, it will be very different from April’s experience because my family supports me, and no matter what happens out there they will be there for me (or at least I hope so!). But, as in Ghost Girl, there will be many challenges in going to school for the first time.

I really liked this book because it opened up a whole new way of living and a different place and time than I had ever read. I would recommend this book to anyone in need of a good story.

Ghost Girl Sarah Day Cymrot

Sarah Day Cymrot, 12
Washington, DC

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