Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Pram, #1
Pram Bellamy was born an orphan. The unusual circumstances surrounding her birth have produced a peculiar gift, for eleven-year-old Pram can see ghosts. Growing up with two practical aunts, she has learned to keep this talent a secret. When Pram meets Clarence, a boy seeking his mother’s ghost, she must decide if she should continue to keep her ability hidden. Meanwhile, someone else has become aware of Pram’s gift and is desperate to use her for their own twisted gain.
“She had thought the worst thing that could happen to a girl like her would be the circus. And even the circus didn’t seem so terrible. But she had never thought someone could take her ability away.”
Lauren DeStefano’s A Curious Tale of the In-Between is a highly enjoyable middle grade read with charming ghosts and a heart-stopping adventure. Much of Pram’s story is rather dark. Unbeknownst to her, her mother lost her life to suicide. Having grown up in a nursing home owned by her two aunts, Pram’s companions have been limited to the elderly and the occasional ghost. Her closest friend is Felix, a boy who died long ago and whose relationship with Pram has kept him from wanting to move on. Pram’s thoughts about her parentage is another secret she keeps close. She’s convinced she’s responsible for her mother’s death and is burdened with the question of whether her father knows she exists or if he simply doesn’t want her.
Pram’s happiness is irrevocably tied with the spirit world. While Felix has been her bright spot in the in-between place between the living and what lies beyond death, Clarence becomes her bright spot in the living world. Having pulled away from this world in hopes of seeking answers beyond the grave, Clarence finds a kindred spirit in Pram, who like him has lost her mother. Pram’s aunts, convinced their sister’s death was the result of her flighty ways, have spent the last eleven years raising Pram in the most practical possible, though it’s becoming difficult for them to ignore how much time their niece spends with her imaginary friend Felix. Their pragmatism, which at times can seem stifling, comes from a good place, driven by love and a fear that Pram takes after her mother a little too much.
A Curious Tale of the In-Between is perfect for those who like their ghosts to be more friendly than scary, but also enjoy a darker middle grade read.