Steinbeck’s Ghost by Lewis Buzbee

The book is well written and uses language in clear easy to read prose at a grade level that is appropriate for pre-teens, while challenging. The author chose 3rd person limited omniscience, which gave him the ability to describe scenes and narrate the story from an adult point of view. Although third person tends to remove the reader from involvement in the story, Buzbee manages to keep the reader involved.


He captured the rebellious nature of pre-teens without damaging the parent-child relationship. He also captured the trap that adults fall into when their careers consume their lives. The protagonist’s recognition of this phenomena seemed too mature to be real. He does capture the pre-teen camaraderie – the secret club – the secret handshake world of boys. There are no girls in the story, which makes it feel a little single focused. The librarian takes the place of the female friend.


None of the weird sightings is ever explained. The novel seems too preachy, particularly at the outset when the author narrates the importance of libraries.


The book could have been linked to Osa – i.e. the character could have been a manifestation of the author. There were quite a few incomplete threads – the mystery of character visions, the role that Osa will play in his own future, how this affects the boys’ futures, etc.


The plot line was a little weak in that it’s hard for me to believe that the characters in the story are that turned on by a library or a crusade to keep the library open. These are two very unusual pre-teen boys.


The book tends to be didactic. that said, some of the humor in the dialogue between Hil and Travis was spot on.


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