The Afterlife, by Gary Soto

There are a number of books next to me as I type, waiting to be reviewed, but in an effort to be Seasonally Appropriate, I picked the ghost story.

That being said, The Afterlife, by Gary Soto (Harcourt, 2003, 168 pages), is something of an un-deadish sort of ghost story. Sure, the main character, Chuy, is dead--knifed because made the wrong comment the wrong time. But he's still very much a Mexican Americn teenaged boy, still tied to the real world of Fresno, CA. Although Chuy does have ghostly superpowers, as it were, and no-one living can see him, Soto is not particularly concerned with not with exploring the supernatural. Rather, the reader is given the reactions of those who knew and loved Chuy, and, in turn, his reactions and realizations, as death gives him the perspective that allows him to really see his own life.

It's not all listening in on conversations, though. Chuy is also interested, not unnaturally, in trying to make sense of why he was killed, which means tracking down the thug who killed him, and maybe getting revenge. And he's not the only recent ghost in town--there's also Crystal, a girl who's just committed suicide...who becomes his friend.

This isn't a book for those who want things to Happen, as not much does. Even the main character being knifed isn't particularly tense--it is so fast and random that Chuy is dead before he, or the reader, can blink. But Soto's fine writing brings to life Chuy's relationships with friends and family, and the experience of being teenager, and wondering what the point of one's life/death is. Chuy's ghostly abilities and the mystery of what will happen next add interest.

It's one that I think will appeal to teenagers (boys in particular) trying to make sense of their own lives. They might well want something similar-- to hear what others think about them, to take action against those who hurt them without worrying about consequences, to meet and become friends with a member of the opposite sex, with no one else around to judge or compete.


  1. A ghost story is perfect for this time of the year! Even if I limited my posting to what is appropriate I would still be way behind!

  2. i love this this book!!!!


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