Merry Wanderer of the Night + YA

Review: I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

If any of you have talked to me, chances are really good that I've mentioned how much I love Lisa Schroeder. I read The Day Before first, (read my review here) and was blown away by Lisa's insane talent as a verse novelist. I decided I absolutely needed to read more. So I did.

I had heard people talk about I Heart You, You Haunt Me and I'd seen it around the online bookish world some, but I wasn't really interested in it. (I know, I know! I'm sorry!) I don't really do ghosts/paranormal and the cover made me think it was going to be something light & fluffy and silly. I'm literally cringing as I write this, because there's not much that could be farther from the truth.

This is a story of Ava, a young girl trying to accept her boyfriend's death. Neither of them are quite ready to let go, and so, they don't. Jackson comes back to Ava and lingers.

I loved the way Lisa crafted the ghosts in this story. Jackson is not the typical specter, let me come float about the house and whatevs. It's done so subtly, almost like he's just barely more than a memory come to life. His presence is near Ava when she is alone, and he can occasionally whisper into her mind. But he can't go where there are others and Ava is still alive, which means she can't spend all of her time, locked in her room with the memory of a lost love and the almost touch of his ghost.

I've never had such a short book (just over 200 pages in verse) affect me so hard. Lisa is a genius. She has this intense honesty to her writing that makes it emotional, pure and without agenda. It is truth in writing and she breathes life into these characters she puts on the page in so few words.

I find it hard to classify this book, because even though the story deals with a ghost, which to me automatically shifts the book into the paranormal realm, this is a book that feels wholly contemporary. And knowing me, and how much I love contemporary, that's pretty much the highest compliment I can think to give a book about ghosts.

I do also want to mention the verse style briefly (or as briefly as I ever get...) I love verse novels. I talk about them often, recommend them frequently and seek them out actively. But there is a very delicate balance with verse novels. A verse novel is written in sparse, spare language. Every word is important and because you have so few, every single one needs to matter significantly. When done well, it is some of the absolute most powerful writing I have ever read. But when it's not done well, it can fail... horribly.

So let me tell you this — If you are wary of verse novels, scared to try them because you think you hate poetry or because you've heard from people who didn't like some, or maybe because you didn't like a previous novel, give Lisa a try. She is, hands down, the author I recommend beginning verse novels with. (I have references for this...) The only other verse novelist that I've personally read that I believe has anywhere near such a firm and powerful grasp on verse is Ellen Hopkins and she can be intimidating for a brand new verse reader (and that's a whole different conversation).

So I challenge you to give Lisa Schroeder a try. The Day Before is my favorite of the two of her novels that I have so far read (although I plan to start Chasing Brooklyn tomorrow:) ) but I Heart You, You Haunt Me is also a stunningly brilliant book. Either of these are a phenomenal place to start and I'm willing to bet that they will open your eyes and your mind to a whole new world of books. Let Lisa take you there.

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Review: I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder + YA