The Girl with the Ghost Machine is an interesting story about a grieving girl who lost her mother to illness, and who is afraid she is losing her father to a machine that he is trying to build to bring her mother back. It’s completely original and touching in a lot of different ways, and the whole premise of the book was completely fantastic.
Emmaline lost her mother a few years ago, and her father started to build a big machine in the basement that would bring her back. He could never get it going or figure out how to make it work, but Emmaline hated it – it was taking up all of his time and not leaving any for her. So after begging him to stop building it and spend more time with her, only to be met with his insistence that he keep trying, Emmaline takes matters into her own hands one night.
When Emmaline decides to dump her cup of tea into the machine in an attempt to break it one night, what happens instead is something completely unexpected – she sees her mother’s ghost and gets to spend some time with her. When she tells her friends about the experience, they demand to see – and try to bring back their goldfish and their dog. When Emmaline’s father finds out what it can do, he is overjoyed – his machine works! But they slowly learn that it comes with a price – every time you place something that reminds you of the person you want to see into the machine, you lose a memory you had of that person.
Emmaline uses the machine to help her neighbors, and her father uses the machine to see Emmaline’s mother a few times, but Emmaline isn’t sure that she will ever want to use it again.
When tragedy strikes and one of Emmaline’s friend’s lives are on the line, Emmaline must decide if she should try and use the machine again if the worst happens. However, when the machine causes a rift between her and her other friend, she decides to stand up to her father and tell him that the machine is causing more harm than good.
The Girl with the Ghost Machine is one of the most creative middle grade books that I’ve come across. Admittedly, I haven’t read any of Lauren DeStefano’s other middle grade books, so this was a nice treat. Sometimes I just get in the mood for middle grade novels, and I was super excited to dive into this one, because it sounded like it was going to be something new.
This book is a book that combines love and loss along with a little bit of hope to weave together a tale that makes you look at life in a new light. It was beautifully written and really easy to get lost in – I read the book in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down.
The reason I gave this one four stars instead of five was because of the characters – to me they felt like they could have been a little more well rounded personality wise – I couldn’t really connect with them. Emmaline’s father just seemed so absent, and her friends weren’t all that memorable. Emmaline’s character did have a bit more in terms of personality, but I still would have liked to see more things that would have made her even more interesting.
Aside from the issues I had with the book’s characters, I was absolutely in love with this. There is so much to think about after reading this book, and while reading it, and I know for a fact that I’m going to read this one again and again.
If you like middle grade, or are a fan of Lauren DeStefano’s work, I highly recommend picking this one up and giving it a read!