Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 704
An emotional journey to self-discovery
(Updated: February 26, 2022)
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
N/A
Characters
 
N/A
Writing Style
 
N/A
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The story is told first-person through Bug’s eyes, which makes sense since the main issues are happening within Bug's mind. Bug was close to Uncle Roderick, but he’s recently died after spending his final months in hospice. Memories of him constantly arise in Bug's thoughts, and there are troubles dealing with his death. Also, Bug is starting middle school in the fall and might want to try a different image before meeting new classmates. Bug isn’t interested in make-up, new clothes, and boys and doesn't understand how to fit in with girl friends. Revelations about herself steer the plot, as Bug discovers she’s transgender.
This book tells a ghost story, although it’s not really about ghosts. The plot has eerie moments, but it’s not a spooky narrative. Bug’s house has been haunted ever since his mom and uncle moved in, but he’s never seen an actual ghost. He can sense cold areas in the house and sees objects that have been moved. Bug starts to have strange dreams and wakes up to find his bedroom a mess, but he isn’t sure what it all means. His best friend Moira gets freaked out about the idea of ghosts, and always asks Bug if any new ones are around. Bug finally figures out a ghost is trying to communicate with him but has no idea what the message might be or why it's chosen to speak to him.
Moira is a remarkable best friend. She tries to help Bug prepare for middle school, while Bug isn’t always open to her efforts. Ghosts frighten her, but she hangs out with Bug at his haunted house. She still comes over even after some creepy and alarming things happen during a sleepover. Her patience and understanding, even when she doesn’t understand, are remarkable and display admirable qualities of friendship for young readers. She’s amazingly accepting when Bug’s revelation comes to light.
What didn’t work as well:
The book doesn’t have a hook in the beginning to engage a wide range of young readers, and the ghost angle isn’t at the forefront in the beginning. Opening with Uncle Roderick’s death, Bug’s subsequent grieving, and increasing differences with her Moira make the early part of the book depressing. The story is much more engaging once Bug figures out a ghost is trying to make connections. The second half of the book is an emotional ride to discovery.
The Final Verdict:
An emotional journey to self-discovery. The book may not appeal to all young readers, but it’s a book that will enlighten all who read it. It’s an inspirational adventure, and I recommend you give it a shot.
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