Saturday 11 March 2017

One for Sorrow

Finished February 28
One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

This children's novel is set in an unnamed American city, and starts in the fall of 1918. Annie Browne is a beloved only child, and her parents have recently moved to the community. As she begins school in September, another girl in her class immediately claims her as a friend. Unfortunately Elsie Schneider is a girl with low self-esteem, high jealousy, and little in the way of social skills. Annie is a friendly child and doesn't want to seem unthankful for the offer of friendship, but when Elsie insists on coming home with her, and makes threats towards here, Annie is horrified and frightened. She manages to find enough strength to approach the other girls in her glass on a day when Elsie is not there, and thus manages to find a group of girls that she finds more amenable, but the threat of Elsie never really goes away.
When the deadly Spanish influenza comes to town and school is closed, Annie and her group of friends enter into activities that they know their parents wouldn't approve of. When the disease begins to count some of their classmates as victims, things begin to go sadly wrong.
Annie finds herself haunted by the specter of a girl she knows she wasn't kind to, and finds that she can't control her own behaviour.
This is a ghost story that reeks of sadness and resentment. The ghost here is a girl who hasn't had an easy life, and didn't have the skills to overcome her situation. As the ghost takes out her fury on her victims, I feared for the future of poor Annie.

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