Resource Links Review - Ghost Most Foul

Reviewed by: Crystal Hurdle

The reader roots for narrator 14 year-old Summer Widdon (a.k.a. Secret Weapon; a.k.a Withering Heights), basketball player, as she learns lessons of teamwork and friendship with underdog Dodie Direland (a.k.a. Dodo-bird; a.k.a. Dire Straits) through the device of the ghost (or is it?) of her former coach. An interesting but uneasy melange of a conventional sports story where the paranormal (the smell of coconut announcing the ghost's appearance), morphs into the medical: is the ghost the possible repercussion of sports/brain injuries or grief: exactly what does the story want to be? 

The reader will likely know long before Summer does what the coach meant by "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you win the game" and can congratulate herself on figuring out the WHY of the manifestation before the protagonist does. Except for, ironically, the twins, the teammates are indistinguishable, but the amily dynamic/development, the initial Christmas focus (sensory details), as well as the small-town Manitoba setting are delightful. However rich the character development of Dodie and Summer, the teens talk mostly like adults with the odd "like" or "so" inserted, along with dated slang. The technology is old=fashioned, and Summer's noting that she's not allowed to have a cell phone is insufficient to explain the broken VHS player and the girls' nicknames - not up-to-date pop cult. 

The message, though, is not old-fashioned, and it's refreshing to have a focus on female friendship. What might have become a love interest stays at the elvel of a shared passion for basketball. Bonus: One doesn't need to know much about basketball to be able to appreciate the game scenes. The too-punny title - the ghost herself hardly seems foul - forecasts the book as a whole. Something is a little off in the execution of a very novel concept. 

Thematic Links: Sports Injury/Brain Injury/Concussion; Team Sports; Basketball; Death; Ghosts; Grief

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