This book provides a first-hand account of living in a house haunted by the spirits of three children. After reading the whole thing, I still don’t have an opinion about whether Don’t Call Them Ghosts should be considered fiction or non-fiction, and it probably shouldn’t matter. The author/narrator seems convinced, and presents her story the way she remembers it.
The author has a very different lifestyle than I do--she was raised in a different time, in a different part of the country, with very different values. I found myself rolling my eyes when the narrative paused so she could gush about how perfect her husband is or how beautiful her baby is, but maybe that says more about me than her.
However, the narrator does take some actions that I didn’t think were explained very well and that hurt the story. For example, it takes her weeks to come up with the idea to go to the library, which is directly next door, to figure out who the spirit children in her house are. Once she finally does–and the narrative goes into great detail about the trip–she spends her time reading about an old amusement park instead of the family that built her house. She never mentions going back to that library again, but she does go to the main branch to get some more information several months later. What she finds isn’t really satisfactory–nothing about children dying or even anything from the era the children would have lived–but she doesn’t make any other effort to find out who they are, despite telling them that she will. She doesn’t call the previous owners to ask about the box of stuff she found in the attic. And in the epilogue, she mentions that she made another half-hearted research attempt at her publisher’s urging, but didn’t come up with anything.
This comes across as a lack of curiosity at best and willful ignorance at worst. When she decides after only 5 years to sell “the house of her dreams,” the reader really starts to wonder. And since she is able to help the spirits move on, no one who lives in the house after her will have an opportunity to confirm or deny the story.
But really, this is all probably beside the point. If you can take the author at her word, you’ll enjoy a touching story about family life in a house where living people care for their spirit housemates and vice versa. They protect each other, tease each other, argue sometimes, pout, and generally live together the way a family does. They accept each other as they are, and what more can you ask family to do?
Don’t Call Them Ghosts isn’t going to convince a skeptic that ghosts really exist. But if you’re not looking to be convinced--if you’re looking for a story about what it’s like to live and interact with friendly spirits in your house–then you’ll likely enjoy this family story.
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