AUTHOR: Kimberly G. Giarratano
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on author's website
Young Adult - Paranormal
In 1955, 18-year-old town belle Lana Bloom was found dead in the river. 40 years later, she haunts Ash, the small town where she lived and where her descendants remain - including her great niece, Liz, a criminology student with the rare ability to see ghosts. Though Lana's spirit remains bound to Ash by unfinished business, she can't remember who killed her or the circumstances leading up to her own murder. Determined to crack the cold case and set Lana's soul free, Liz begins piecing together the details of the past to help Lana regain her memories and find peace.
The Lady in Blue is a gorgeously written paranormal mystery told from Lana's perspective. While the story begins and ends in the 1990s, most of it consists of flashbacks to Lana's life as a teenager in the 1950s - one who dreams of independence while being forced to conform to that era's rigid definition of a woman's place. While we know from the very beginning what Lana's grim fate will be - her car crashes, someone dumps her in the river, and she drowns - we don't know how she ended up there, and there's plenty of tension and mystery that keeps the plot moving forward. It's not an easy storytelling method, since it requires that the writer somehow create tension and leave us wondering "but what happens next" even when we know how it all ends, and Giarratano handles it expertly, throwing in twists that I never saw coming. While everyone in Ash has heard about the Lady in Blue, turns out, nobody knew the truth.
This novella is a companion/spinoff/sort of sequel to Giarratano's other YA paranormal mystery, Grunge Gods and Graveyards (which is easiest to describe as Ghost meets Veronica Mars), in which Lana first makes her appearance as a ghost who helps the protagonist of that book, Lainey (Liz's sister). While it's cool to see how the two books fit together, The Lady in Blue is a complete story on its own and can be read as a standalone (though I don't see why you wouldn't read Grunge Gods and Graveyards too!).
The Lady in Blue is a short, quick read that packs a lot of punch - drama, romance, mystery, and more. Lana is a sympathetic and likable protagonist who just wants a chance to pursue her dreams, even as family pressures keep trying to chain her down. As her life spirals toward its inevitable end, all the twists and turns kept me hooked to the very last page.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kimberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.
Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.