Review Detail

4.0 1
Kids Fiction 3022
Staying at the Grave
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming is a quick, interesting read. Usually a writer of children's picture books and of non-fiction, Fleming beautifully crosses over to the realm of children's longer fiction. Depending on how one looks at it, the novel can be picked up as a Young Adult novel.

The story mixes in some truth with paranormal fiction. In the Author's Note at the end of the book Fleming tells of where some of the inspiration for each of the phantom teen’s stories. Set in a real cemetery in Chicago, each of the teens buried at this gravesite receives the chance to share his or her story with Mike, a real boy. Why Mike is chosen by Carol Anne, one of the apparitions, is not revealed to the end of the novel.

What makes the novel so easy to read is the short stories that compose the book. Every ghost’s story makes up one chapter; all of which are connected through Mike. The tales are intricately linked after its end by returning us to the graveyard. Here, the chatter between the phantoms and Mike lead us into the next telling.

This concept may be very depressing; the telling of lives that were taken too soon from this world. The atmosphere is kept light by having most of the tales have some paranormal activity; monkey claws, wild stallions, a looking mirror that will suck one in and never spit you back out. This aspect helps the audience to not get too choked up with the sadness behind these tragic deaths.

One thing the novel is missing is Carol Anne's story. We hear of how she died in the introductory chapter, the one where Mike is led to the cemetery. After that we never learn of why she was in the canoe in the middle of the night in October. There may be bits and pieces of it but she never tells her story in her own words.

For me, “Our Story” is the theme of the whole novel. It may be fun, a little historical, but in the end it is all about every human being able to tell his or her own story in words straight from his or her mouth— no interruptions, no judgments.
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