Author: Katie Williams
Release date: May 21st 2013
Hardcover, 184 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Forever is a long time to be stuck in high school.Seventeen-year-old Paige is dead, the victim of a freak fall from the roof during Physics class. Now she’s a ghost, permanently bound to the grounds of her high school. It isn’t all bad, she can find out everyone’s secrets, which can be amusing—for a while.But then Paige hears something that isn’t amusing at all: the rumor spread by the most popular girl at school that her death wasn’t an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose. Paige is desperate to stop the gossip, but what can a ghost do? Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get inside the girl who’s responsible for the stories. . . and have a little fun turning the tables while she’s at it.Katie Williams’s second novel is a suspenseful page-turner full of eerie wit and a touch of the otherworldly
For a book that is mere 180 pages long, Absent is surprisingly heart-wrenching. It is a poignant story about coming to terms with death, accepting things and moving on. Although short, Absent has many great qualities, such as Katie Williams’ simple, yet beautiful writing and many subtle messages that delicately, but firmly teach us the truths about life.
Paige is dead. She fell off the roof of her high school during her physics class and ended up tied to the school grounds along with two other ghosts, Brooke and Evan. She spends her days in classes, listening to conversations, hoping to hear that she’s missed by someone other than her best friend Usha. Instead, she hears rumors that she committed suicide and she knows exactly who’s to blame.
Paige soon discovers that she can possess any person, as long as that person is thinking about her. The memorial being painted by the school entrance ensures that people remember her, at least in passing, and she’s free to possess whomever she chooses. She uses this ability to stop unwanted rumors, spread different ones and make sure that everyone gets exactly what they deserve.
Paige isn’t a bad person at all, but she’d been deluding herself in life and death has a way of opening your eyes even when you don’t want it to. Her desire to be mourned by the boy she liked despite herself, the same boy who refused to acknowledge her in public when she was alive, helped me see the lonely girl underneath her masks. All three ghosts had to come to terms with their untimely deaths and the damage they left behind. They had many regrets and things to forgive themselves for, but they all learned that it’s never too late to become a better person.
Even with three ghosts at the center of the story, Absent doesn’t address the matter of life after death. Williams never even tries to offer her version of the afterlife, nor do her characters question their ties to the school. I saw this as an admission that the hows and whys aren’t for us to question, which I really appreciated.
The subtle message of this tiny book is that not all wrongs can be put to right and that sometimes the cards you’ve been dealt don’t matter – all that matters is making peace with the things that went wrong and moving on. Absent wasn’t what I expected it to be, but what I took away from it was more valuable than it first seemed. This is a book you’ll think about long after you finish it, and the more you think about it, the more you’ll like it.