Friday, May 7, 2004

A Stir of Bones

Hoffman, Nina Kiriki. 2003. A STIR OF BONES. Viking Children’s Press. ISBN 0670035513 [Suggested Grade Levels: 7 and up].


Susan Backstrom, the main character of this story, appears to have everything: she’s smart and beautiful, her family is wealthy, and as the only child she has their undivided attention. However, beneath the façade of the perfect family lies the secret of abuse. While Susan herself is never physically abused, her father is as emotionally abusive to Susan as he is physically abusive to his wife whenever he disapproves of Susan’s actions. In a single moment of freedom at the library, Susan happens to overhear a group of her peers talking about visiting a haunted house and convinces them to let her come with them. Reluctantly agreeing, Susan sets off on a journey that leads to her own self-awareness of who she is as she develops friendships with these peers, a ghost living in the house, and the house itself, which has a life of its own. These relationships strengthen Susan and help her to see that she has the power to make decisions for herself.

This is more than just another ghost story. Filled with complex relationships, supernatural powers, and suspense, the author does an incredible job of drawing the reader into a world filled with intrigue that invokes the desire to read more. Thankfully this is the prequel to two other books written by the author. As the reader comes to know Susan and is allowed into her private life, a connection is made, bringing the story to life and creating a support system for Susan and the other characters based on the emotions of the reader. So many emotions fill the reader of this book as it evokes anger, sadness, anxiety, relief, hope, fear, and so much more. While the situation in Susan’s family is not resolved in this book, the strength of Susan at the end fills the reader with hope that in the books to come, permanent changes will be made for the better.


Chart the changes in the characters from the beginning of the story to the end.
Compare and contrast to other books with themes of the supernatural or ghost stories.
Read all three books in the trilogy and note similarities, changes, differences of the author’s style and writing techniques.


Other supernatural/ghost stories:
Cabot, Meg. HAUNTED. ISBN 006029471X.
Carroll, Jenny. REUNION. ISBN 0671788124.

Other books in this trilogy by Nina Kiriki Hoffman:

By Kirsten Murphy

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