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Dead Girl Walking: Linda Joy Singleton

Book: Dead Girl Walking
Author: Linda Joy Singleton (blog)
Pages: 312
Age Range: 10 and up

Dead Girl WalkingDead Girl Walking is the first book in Linda Joy Singleton's new Dead Girl series. The second book, due out in spring of 2009, will be Dead Girl Dancing. Dead Girl Walking is about a directionally-challenged teen named Amber Borden. Amber is your classic popular crowd wannabee. Although she has two best friends, and is the founder of a school committee that gives welcome baskets to new students, Amber years to be part of the in crowd. In a twist that gives a whole new meaning to "be careful what you wish for", Amber ends up, after a near death experience (and a wrong turn at the "light"), inside the body of the most popular girl in school. Only when she's separated from her own family and friends (who are mourning her apparently brain-dead body) does she fully appreciate her life. And she learns that Leah Montgomery's perfect facade hides serious problems. Will Amber be able to help Leah and get back to her own body before it's too late?

I really enjoyed this book. I read it in one sitting, and didn't even stop to flag passages. I just read it for the fun of stepping into Amber's (well, Leah's) shoes. Dead Girl Walking reminded me a bit of Meg Cabot's Mediator and 1-800-where-r-you series. The text flows smoothly, and Amber is easy to relate to. She's a bit overweight (when in her own body) because she can't resist chocolate. She, in fact, bonds with a boy over their shared passion for truffles. Here's just one of several chocolate-bonding passages:

"Crisp silver foil fell away as I tore into the candy bar. The scent of rich milky chocolate was an intoxicating high that only a true chocoholic could appreciate. I divided the candy into eight perfect cubes, and slipped a pure, one-eighth fraction of joy into my mouth.
"Ooooh," I moaned in bliss.
I'd died and was reborn with milk chocolate: melting sweet hope. The taste evoked memories of happier times, a connection to my real self." (Page144)

OK, it's a little over the top. But it makes me love Amber, whatever body she's in. Amber also feels besieged by her triplet baby sisters, and resents the fact that her parents spent her college money on fertility treatments (I mean, who wouldn't be a little bitter about that?). She's surprised to learn that other people see her in a much more positive light than she imagines herself. And she's surprised when she learns that the kids who seem to have it all are much more complex than they appear on the surface. These things are, perhaps, more surprising to her than the proof of an afterlife.

Personally, I can't wait for the next book in the series, and I hope that there are more to follow. I will gobble them up like chocolates, bite-sized morsels of escapist reading. Amber is seventeen, and the series appears to be aimed at high school kids, but I think that middle schoolers will enjoy it, too. There are references to Leah having had sex, but, at least in this book, Amber shares no more than a couple of kisses. She feels innocent to me. There is also an implication of Leah having been, possibly, abused by a family member, but this is alluded to a highly veiled manner, one that I think younger kids will be able to gloss over. In short, Dead Girl Walking is highly recommended for fans of high school stories and/or supernatural tales. It's great fun!

Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: September 1, 2008
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Michelle's Minions, Zensanity, Si se puede! Yes we can, Charlotte's Library (Note: Charlotte thinks this is a better book for 12 and up, and she may well be right ... go read her review)
Author Interviews: From the Corner of Megan's Mind

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.