Finished July 12
Ghost Girl by Helena McEwan
This novel is set in the 1970s. Cath is thirteen and is the new girl at the Catholic convent boarding school in England. Her father works in the foreign service and she has not lived in England until now. Most recently, she was in South America.
Her older sister Very is at art school in London. When Cath has school breaks, she travels to London and stays with Very. Very cares deeply about Cath, that is clear, but Cath must find her own way, both at school and in London.
Luckily, I never had to go to boarding school, but I've been the new girl, and I felt for Cath in her uncertainty, her lack of knowledge of the current pop culture, and her nostalgia for the life she knew until now. Certainly at many times, the girls at school were cruel in the way only girls can be, but she is not the only new girl, and not the only one singled out for embarrassment.
What surprised me the most was the cruelty of some of the nuns who are teachers at the school. The teachers who weren't nuns seemed better, and not all of the nuns had cruel streaks, but some of them seemed to delight in making the girls' lives unhappy.
The novel is split into four parts, with the first and third parts being in London, the second part being at school, and the fourth part mostly at school until the end of term when Cath arrives back in London.
I found the writing very interesting, with Cath's thoughts often moving to school when she was in London and vice versa. Other than the words themselves, there is no indication of this change so it gives a real sense of the distracting nature of the thoughts at times.
Cath was a delight, a quiet girl, a thinker. She enjoys the astronomical facts she learns from the other new girl, Olive, sharing them with Very. She delights in the experiences she undergoes in London with Very's friends, for the most part. She likes being alone, sitting quietly with others, observing the world around her. School is not easy, but she finds it may not be as bad as she first thought, although there are moments that are worse than she imagined. This is a unique coming of age experience, uniquely told.