ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Charlotte Usher has never been popular. She’s never even been noticed. But this year she’s sure things are going to be different. In the right clothes, in the same classes as her longtime crush, Damen—a result of Charlotte’s stalkerish behavior—how in the world can he not dump Petula, the most popular girl in school, in favor of the new and improved Charlotte?
Yet despite all her research, Charlotte is still invisible. She’s not even noticed as she chokes to death on a gummy bear after physics class. Determined to not let a little thing like death get in her way, Charlotte continues her pursuit of Damen from the afterlife.
You can count me among the minority of readers who found ghostgirl, by Tonya Hurley, a somewhat entertaining but rather disappointing book. It just didn’t work for me, though I can see how other readers may like it. It’s a satire and commentary on social hierarchy in high school, which will appeal to a lot of teens. Plus, look at the gorgeous packaging! That alone will have teens picking it up. But I could never get into the story, and I found the characters, the plot, and the satirical element unsatisfyingly thin. According to the VOYA review of ghostgirl, Hurley created the character of Charlotte online in 2002, and it did read like a novelization of something that was not originally a book, then was stretched into a 300+ page novel.
If you’re looking for a high school satire, I would recommend Sloan Tanen‘s Appetite for Detention instead. Appetite for Detention is largely photographic (see the Bloomsbury site), with captions describing the various stereotypes being skewered. Even without the photos, though, lines like, “Edgar wasn’t a skater, a punk, a jock, a geek, or a nerd. He was just depressed, and he hadn’t found that clique yet,” are sharper and wittier than anything in ghostgirl.