Haint Misbehavin' (Ghost Handlers #1) by Maureen Hardegree
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: June 10, 2011
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Pages: 220 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This is the first book in a fun, paranormal YA series about Heather Tiley, a fourteen-year-old girl who attracts ghosts.
It's the summer before her freshman year and geeky Heather, who has endured years of ridicule from her peers because she suffers from multiple skin and respiratory allergies, is determined to reinvent herself by convincing her pretty, popular, older sister Audrey to back her as she enters the brave new world of high school in the fall. Unfortunately, just as Heather is reaching out to win over her sister, Heather's first period arrives, accompanied by a disastrous development--Heather can see ghosts, and most of them are unnervingly demanding.
The only silver lining in this horrifying situation is that Heather can apparently only be compelled to wrangle one ghost at a time. But the one who latches onto her is an overwhelmingly boisterous ten-year-old girl from the 1800's named Amy who makes incessant demands on Heather to entertain her.
The only way for Heather to offload Amy, and escape the embarrassing situations she constantly creates, is to figure out what is holding the little girl in this realm. But Amy refuses to cooperate, and it will take every bit of ingenuity Heather can muster to ferret out the mischievous ghost's secrets.
It was a treat discovering this lighthearted, G-rated, YA paranormal novel in the midst of a sea of dark, R-rated YA in today's marketplace. There is a tendency among many reviewers to label any book that is not "edgy" as "middle-grade," but I do not view this book that way. Yes, it is a "clean" enough read that girls as young as 10-11 can safely read it, but it is a solid-enough story that teens as old as 15 will enjoy it as well, and adults who are fans of the YA genre will definitely find this a very entertaining read. The story is filled with comic adventure, the characters are lively and three-dimensional, and Heather is a likeable, warm-heartedly hapless heroine.
I would label this book as both a comic coming-of-age tale and chick lit. The emphasis is on Heather's various relationships, family, friends, social enemies and, of course, ghosts.
I rate this book as follows:
Fantasy World-Building: 5
Chick-Lit Plot: 5