Only one day before sixteen-year-old Olivia Tithe is supposed to return to art school across the country, she kisses her childhood best friend, Lucan Stern, and realizes that she loves him. But Notes from Ghost Town isn’t a fairy tale. Before she can confess her love, Stern’s kiss turns artist Olivia’s world to shades of grey. The color is gone—almost as if her eyes can sense the shock she can’t see coming. Because only a week later, Stern is dead. Olivia’s schizophrenic mother is found cradling his body, his blood on her hands. She confesses to killing him and is sent to jail, awaiting sentencing.
Olivia is shattered by Stern’s death and her mother’s arrest. She’s kicked out of art school after she stops painting and acts out. She fears that her mother’s delusion, The Grey Space, has come to haunt her. And soon, she is haunted. Stern returns and speaks to her. He can’t remember his death, or most of his life, but he tells Olivia that her mother is innocent. Has Olivia inherited her mother’s disease? Is she going crazy, seeing Sterns ghost at every turn? Or is her mother innocent, and Stern’s ghost lingering here to help Olivia uncover the truth?
Olivia’s father and best friend are both concerned for her. They want her to go to therapy and deal with her trauma. Only Austin Morse, the filthy rich stepson of her father’s business partner and a reformed snob, seems to support her. But should she trust someone she used to hate? And will she be able to handle the truth she finds lingering in Ghost Town?
With an unreliable narrator and a ghost who may or may not exist, author Kate Ellison keeps readers guessing until the end. And beyond the mystery of Stern’s death lies a relatable struggle—how do you get over your first love? Olivia must answer this question if she wants to find happiness.
Review by Erin, CLP-Allegheny