08 April 2011

Imprint Friday: The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Amy Einhorn Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Paul Elwork's The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead is just a little bit creepy, exploring what happens when two teens claim to have found a way to unite living and dead. The novel takes us back to the easy years of the 1920s and follows a child's game that goes a bit too far:

Emily Stewart is the girl who will claim to stand between the living and the dead. She and her brother, Michael, are thirteen-year-old twins, privileged, precocious, wandering aimlessly around their family’s Philadelphia estate during the quiet summer of 1925. One day Emily discovers an odd physical tic—she can secretly crack a joint in her ankle so the sound seems to burst from midair. In their garden tea house, Emily and Michael gather the neighborhood children to fool them with these "spirit knockings." But soon this game of contacting the dead creeps into a world of adults still reeling from World War I. When the twins find themselves dabbling in the uncertain territory of human grief and family secrets, their game spins wildly out of control.

A layered, multigenerational story, The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead is a novel about family secrets, love triangles, missing people. It is about the desperate need to contact the departed, about faith and chicanery, and what we ultimately will do for forgiveness.
Are Emily and Michael bad kids or have they simply been left alone a little too much? After trying out their trick on a younger boy, "Emily could not forget the look on Albert Dunne's face when he believed Regina['s ghost] had joined them in the tea house. . . . [I]t was thrilling to see herself transformed in his eyes" (p. 58). What thirteen-year-old could resist that power? But when Emily sees the more serious results of their game, she begins to have second thoughts, wondering if she still wants to be The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead.

Here some other readers' thoughts:
  • From Publishers Weekly: "Interweaving Emily's experiences with those of several generations of family and friends devastated by tragic loss, Elwork paints an unforgettable portrait of individuals traumatized by death and unhinged by grief."
  • From Julie of Booking Mama: "I was blown away by how this book handled the issue of grief as well as the many different ways that people deal (or don't deal) with it."
  • From Michelle at That's What She Read: "[Emily] understands that she is fulfilling a need within people's lives, and her discovery of just how tenuous the line is between helping and hurting is fascinating."
To learn more about Paul Elwork, check out this interview at Eric Forbes's Book Addict's Guide to Good Books, where I learned that Paul and I have some interesting things in common. Paul also had a website and blog and shows up on Twitter.

Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead at an Indie

Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books, March 2011
ISBN-13: 9780399157172


Swapna 4/8/11, 8:30 AM  

I started this book, but couldn't get into it, and then later realized what it reminded me of. Elwork wrote a book a few years ago called The Tea House that was either (very) small press pubbed or self pubbed about the same topic.

Anonymous,  4/8/11, 9:24 AM  

I've got this one on my Kindle to read. I still think the cover is mega-creepy even if the actual story is not so much. Thanks for sharing!

Julie P. 4/8/11, 9:43 AM  

I was so surprised by the depth of this book. Initially I thought it was almost YA and then the thoughts on grief were incredibly well done. I really liked it and it's not a book I would usually pick up.

Jenn's Bookshelves 4/8/11, 10:18 AM  

I'm reading this one now and really enjoying it.

Unknown 4/8/11, 12:00 PM  

Being a twin (fraternal not identical) I've always been fascinated by the twin relationship, particularly between identical twins. Emily and Michael sound like bright children who are also bored, a lethal combination.

This sounds like a riveting, spine-tingling story! Not to mention that I have enjoyed all of the Amy Einhorn books I've so far read!

Sandy Nawrot 4/8/11, 12:09 PM  

I can't seem to tear my eyes off the cover...very creepy. I read Julie's review and it sounds very Einhorn-worthy.

bermudaonion 4/8/11, 12:59 PM  

I'm really excited about this book! Of course, I'm excited about all Amy Einhorn books, so that's not really a surprise.

Jen - devourer of books 4/8/11, 2:08 PM  

I need to do some link adding for the Amy Einhorn challenge! Anyway, I really quite enjoyed this book.

BookGeek 4/8/11, 3:16 PM  

Hmmm, interesting! I would love to read this for the time period as well.

picky girl 4/8/11, 4:03 PM  

Beautiful cover. I've read a lot about WWI lately (mostly Maisie Dobbs and something else I can't remember) and then watched Downton Abbey, which has remnants of it as well. This sounds spooky but not too over-the-top. I'll look forward to it.

Meghan 4/8/11, 4:48 PM  

I really want to read this - it's been on the wishlist for a while now. Thanks for reminding me that I should get it!

Anonymous,  4/8/11, 10:37 PM  

I'm normally not a fan of creepy, but this one does sound good. Plus, it's got a gorgeous cover.

Dorte H 4/9/11, 2:22 PM  

My, this one sounds fascinating - and that cover .... Oh, Beth, as if I don´t have enough books on that TBR!

Sheila (Bookjourney) 4/10/11, 8:53 PM  

OOH I am looking forward to this one!

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