Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Pemba's Song by Marilyn Nelson and Tonya C. Hegamin

What's It About?  ghosts; teen girls; slavery; history; 'new kid in town'

Summary?  As fifteen-year-old Pemba adjusts to leaving her Brooklyn, New York, home for small-town Connecticut, a Black history researcher helps her understand the paranormal experiences drawing her into the life of a mulatto girl who was once a slave in her house.

Why Did I Read It & Where Did I Get It?  While at work, the "ghost story" subtitle caught my eye. I checked it out from the library.

What I Thought...
This was a short yet interesting book about an African-American teen girl who moves with her mother from Brooklyn, NY to a small town in Connecticut.  Angry at having to move and desperately missing her friends, Pemba initially brushes off her strange experiences in their new home, but when she seems to form a connection with the ghost of a slave --  experiencing unsettling blackouts at the same time -- she begins to delve deeper into the history of her house and the small town.

Pemba is an easy character to sympathize with - her father died several years before in the Iraq war, and she and her mother both clearly feel his loss.  Her mother moves them for a good job opportunity, but understandably, Pemba's resentful about leaving her friends and boyfriend, a feeling acerbated by the fact that her cell phone gets very little reception in the small town.  While the ghost story is slight, it's still creepy, and the glimpses into the ghost's life - in the late 1700s - are unsettling.  Pemba writes about her feelings and impressions in a journal of poems, and I found those reflections the most interesting parts of the book.

This would be a great ghostly read for reluctant readers, or for those looking for high interest/low reading level books.


YA Reading Challenge Count: 6


  1. Sounds pretty interesting(: I havent read a good ghost story in a while:D
    thanks for the review(;

  2. @ Lisa: I recently read another great ghost story: Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen. I've gotten behind on my blog reviews, but plan to start catching up! I'll review it soon :)