Thursday, May 25, 2017

ARC Review: The Girl With the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano

The Girl with the Ghost Machine
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (June 6, 2017)

Description: When Emmaline Beaumont's father started building the ghost machine, she didn't expect it to bring her mother back from the dead. But by locking himself in the basement to toil away at his hopes, Monsieur Beaumont has become obsessed with the contraption and neglected the living, and Emmaline is tired of feeling forgotten.

Nothing good has come from building the ghost machine, and Emmaline decides that the only way to bring her father back will be to make the ghost machine work…or destroy it forever.

My Thoughts: Emmaline loses her mother to a sudden illness when she is ten and almost loses her father too. Her father becomes obsessed with creating a ghost machine to bring her mother back. His obsession results in a lack of care for Emmaline. Emmaline comes to resent the machine for the time it takes her father from her but is moving on from her grief while her father is still locked in his.

One night, Emmaline pours some tea that she makes, which is just like the tea her mother used to make for her during thunderstorms, into the machine. The machine has a reaction finally and Emmaline's mother comes back for a brief period of time. But there is a cost, Emmaline can no longer remember the tea or what her mother was like during thunderstorms. She shares what she learns with her two best friends - twins Gully and Oliver - who have different reactions to Emmaline's mother's return.

When Emmaline's father finds out that the machine is working and loses a memory to see his wife again, he begins to lose his obsession and pay more attention to Emmaline though he refuses to unplug the machine. Then tragedy strikes again...

This was an amazing story with wonderful language and lots to think about. What would a person give to bring back someone who has died even if it is only for a little while? Is it worth the cost? The story also has a lot to say about grief and moving on with your life and how people take different amounts of time to begin living their life again.

I recommend this one to thoughtful middle graders.

Favorite Quote:
Everything drifted out of reach one day. Everything could be taken away in a heartbeat. And if someone was still close enough to hang on to, then you should hold on.
I received this one for review from Bloomsbury. You can buy your copy here.


  1. There need to be more books with positive examples of people (especially parents) moving on with their lives. The current trend to depict everything as grinding to a halt is not helpful. This was just so sad. There is no bringing people back, so thinking about it doesn't even make sense!

  2. What an interesting concept. This is a book I'd like to read. Love the theme and awareness that it seems (from your review) to prod.


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