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The Ghost's Child

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  774 ratings  ·  131 reviews
This magical story, told in the elevated tone of a fable, begins with a visit by a teenage boy to the home of 75-year-old Matilda. She tells him the story of her life with Feather, a man who lived by the sea. She speaks of her love for him and how, long ago, she had become pregnant but miscarried, and he left her.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 2008 by Walker Books Ltd (first published July 2nd 2007)
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Clare Cannon
Jun 14, 2010 Clare Cannon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Shelves: adults
Permit a philosophical review, for it is a philosophical book. It is a superbly written story that immediately submerges the reader in lyrical prose. The style is perfectly suited to the poetic theme which has the echo and poignancy of an age-old fable. Style and structure gradually build the narrative and leave the reader in anticipation of some great event, of some significant and completely transforming act.

My hope was that it would glorify complete selflessness, and show the beauty of giving
Oct 21, 2012 Nafiza rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I'm reading this for Contemporary Children's Lit and according to my Prof, this is "simply divine and unlike anything you have ever read." It sounds exquisitely painful.

For a novel its length, A Ghost’s Child is surprisingly heavy where the themes are concerned. The book deals with self-discovery in a multitude of ways. Before the story of Maddy and Feather even begins, Maddy sets off on a journey of self-discovery with her father. Maddy and her father travel around the world together, seeing wo
Apr 26, 2011 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fable fans
This was a fable :) I really liked Maddy, but with Feather I have some bones to pick. I do not get "Truth" from Feather the way Maddy did. I get isolation and omission. Maddy mentions that maybe it would have been better had she never met Feather. Personally, I'm in that camp. Maybe I'm too much of a realist. But come on! What did he bring to the table, really? He was mopey and impossible to communicate with, and dare I say it, PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE. And when she loses the Fay, what does he say? I' ...more
I’d only read one of Sonya Hartnett’s books previously, Shadows of the Side-Step Wolf, which is a young adult novel I read in high school. I was curious to read more and with my track record with book covers to go by there was no way I could go past this one given it's lovely illustrations.

I’m so pleased to say the book lived up to its gorgeous cover by being an eerily beautiful story. I love how Sonya Hartnett turns the Australian bush and beach into a fairytale setting - unique and strange bu
Matilda, an old woman, enters her sitting room to find a mysterious young boy waiting there for her. His smoky colored eyes are familiar and though he has surprised her with his arrival, the two share tea and conversation for an afternoon.

Maddy's life unfolds in a lyrical recollection told to the young boy, swinging from scenes in the present in her sitting room back to the distant past when she was girl and first fell in love.

This is a gorgeous story that reads like a dreamy fairy-tale, a fev
Eva Mitnick
Gorgeously written and managing to be at the same time both warmly human and puzzlingly mythical, this book is not easy to categorize. It will probably be of most interest to older teens and adults, as the main character is an old woman named Maddy looking back at events - and a relationship - that happened to her as a teen and young woman.

There are fairy-tale elements (Maddy's young man, whom she calls Feather, is an otherworldly sort of person) and moments when (as during the fight between the
I am not generally a big fan of Sonya Hartnett. It's not that I don't appreciate the skill of her writing, I just never feel emotionally connected to her books. (Apart from "Forest", which was about cats, not people. I think I have a problem with her oft-times misanthropic take on humanity.)

Anyway, I didn't expect to care for "The Ghost's Child" any better than I had (most of) her other novels, and it's true that when I started the book, I felt quite disconnected, as much as I—yes—admired the wr
The Ghost's Child by Sonya Hartnett is about a young boy who mysteriously shows up at an old woman's house when she returns home. They soon start to talk and the old woman tells her story of how her life was, which would answer whatever questions the young boy had for he even though HE was the one who came to her home uninvited.

I made a text to self connection while reading this book. Just like this old woman, I've tried to be kind and gentle, laughing and smiling all the time like my life is j
What does it mean to love someone very deeply, and then lose that love? And what does it mean to love someone deeply, but still yearn for something more? Once again, Harnett illuminates the hidden places of the human heart with truth and beauty.
Hartnett, Sonya. 2008. The Ghost's Child. Releases October 14, 2008.

"An exquisite fable about love and loss by the author of the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Surrender."

It's important for readers to realize they're holding a fable in their hands. It will help explain some of the strangeness for one thing. If they're not trying to make it fit reality. Not that the book is unrealistic--it has its moments of course--but it's a blended reality meets fantasy. It has its own set of rules.

So fable abou
Alexi Salter
This book was genuinely captivating, it kept on urging me to pick it up and see what happens. The descriptions were so incredible, I think Sonya may now be one of the best authors in all of mankind!

I do have one complaint though, it's that the character Feather was just stupid! I know that's a very rude thing to say, but he was! If you haven't read the book, don't worry, I won't give too much away. He was okay at the beginning, but in the middle he just turned horribly, horribly wrong...Whatever
This book was recommended to me by my teen-aged daughter. Ahhh! A very good recommendation. She owns this book & has read it like a half dozen times. Now I see why!
This is a 'short' book compared to the ones I usually read. But once I started it, I literally could not put it down. It was just so beautiful! I finished it the same day I started it.
The beauty of the way the author tells this story is really what 'got' me, what 'roped me in', what had me mesmerized & needing to read on. I ju
Christina Diaz
"The Ghost's Child" reads in a very ethereal, beautiful manner. The way the story is told and the content and the characters are very dreamy and almost in a different reality. I really love the language of the whole book, it carries this gentle and light and it simply is beautiful.

The story Matilda tells of herself, Maddy is so bittersweet. I especially found Maddy's relationship with her father sad and how he just transforms into a different man after his and her trip across the world. It was
I liked this, but I have a feeling that it's not going to sell well with my students. The read is much like that of Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson's fictionalized account of growing up in turn of the century England: slow, lots of description, not so much with the action. Haruf's Plainsong is another in this vein.

That's not to say that students won't like it, but I think it's a niche read rather than a widespread seller.
Another deep one from Harntnett. It was a very quick read and I always wanted to pick it up and see what was going to happen next. I don't see too many teens enjoying it for plot or characterization. But I do think the writing is exquisite and teens can definitely enjoy that!

Review soon? Maybe?
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Very pretty writing, very out-of-the-ordinary and a really beautiful tale.
Dear Sonya Hartnett,

I love your books and can't wait to read more.

Lauren Schultz
I discovered Sonya Hartnett on a list of Printz Award-winning authors, and when I figured out that she was from Australia, I decided to try reading a couple of her novels. Of the three that I bought, this one sounded like the most unusual; reviews tout this novel as a combination of fantasy, fable and myth. As a former literature professor who has taught a course specifically on myths, fables, folktales and fairytales, this description intrigued me. I hadn’t intended on reading it, though, until ...more
To sum up this book:
The cute, the dark and the weird- the really WEIRD.

There was a lot of philosophical elements to this; the search for the one most beautiful thing for example, and of course Feather and Mandy's relationship of heartache. This book relied on plenty- I can only assume- aboriginal mythology throughout its plot. There was hardly any dialog, anything anyone did say was extremely profound and quote worthy. My one problem with that is, it wasn't realistic and it seemed terribly forc
Kāds to sauks par pasaku pieaugušajiem, bet es to dēvēju par stāstu, kas satur morāli. Soņas Hartnetas "Rēgu bērns" aizrauj ikvienu romantiskās literatūras cienītāju. Šī autore piesātina darbu ar metaforām un simboliem, savukārt tie veido atmiņā paliekošu mīlestību, vilšanos, cerības un emocijas tēliem, kas liek lasītājam ļauties gan asarām, gan nopūtai priekā, gan arī nesapratnē. Soņa pat atstāj iespēju pašam domāt par atbildēm, kuras neatklājas pat ar stāsta pēdējām lappusēm. Atļaušos teikt, ...more
Originally it took me awhile to read (I read this starting at the age of ten, and this book wasn't the same as books I read at the time). When I began to avidly read this book however, it caught me. When I finally reached the end (in the middle of a elementary school lesson I wasn't listening to) I stopped and kept saying to myself, "WOW! That was...I did not see that coming! But that's so sad, but so good..and just..." I could not stop questioning how I felt about this ending because It was so ...more
Hartnett, Sonya. (2008). The Ghost’s Child. New York: Candlewick. 192 pp. ISBN 978-0-7636-3964-8 (Hardback); $16.99

The title of this book is best understood upon completion of this finely crafted, musical book that is an excellent one to suggest to adults wishing for a taste of brilliant teen literature. While this book will not appeal to every reader, it will appeal to those teens who crave substance and do not mind scratching and clawing to find the buried pearls. The language of this book is
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Ashley B for

Matilda comes home one day to find a young boy sitting on her sofa. They have tea, and she tells him about her past. At that time, she went by Maddy, and she longed for a fairy tale life.

When Maddy finished school, she came home to her family's house by the sea. Her father asked her what she thought the most beautiful thing in the world was. She answered, "sea eagles." Her father decided that the two of them together would travel the world in search of t
Hannah (The Curiouser & Curiouser)
You know those books that tug and pull at your heartstrings until your sick with grief? The ones that make you want to curse and scream at whoever it was the got you into reading in the first place?


Well then, my friend, you haven’t been reading the right books.

This is a story of heartbreak and letting go. But not in the sense you might think. As you’ve probably figured out from the title, this is a ghost story . . . but not, at the same time.

There is no scary house with strange noises and a b
Sonya Hartnett’s The Ghost’s Child is a story of love and loss. Told in beautiful prose, the novel starts with an aging Matilda (Maddy) as she recounts her life story to a young boy that suddenly appeared on her doorstep. Maddy starts with her story about growing up in a well-to-do family with an “iron man” of a father who was more concerned with earning money and an absent mother who spent her time with her friends and charities than with Maddy. An only child, Maddy grew up in solitude becoming ...more
I'm not sure what to make of this novel, or what to take away from it. It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Love is fleeting for some but enduring for others? It's okay to pine after your great lost love for years and years?

The main character Maddy had two great loves in her life: her father and Feather. She did not love either of her parents until she and her father spent a year at sea. Her father became a different man when he was away from her mother, and she l
Zahra Alhaddad
Maddy, an old lady now, arrives home to find a peculiar boy waiting for her. over tea, she tells him the story of her life long ago, when she wishes for her days to be as romantic and mysterious as a fairy tale .It was then that she fell painfully in love with a free spirit named feather, who put aside his wild ways to live with her in a little cottage, conceived with her a child never to be born, and disappeared-leaving an inconsolable Maddy to follow after him on a fantastical journey across t ...more
'The Ghost's Child,' starts off rather simply, with an old woman wrapped up in the comforts and the prison and constraints of the mementoes in her house receiving an unexpected visitor in the form of a rather recalcitrant young boy, who seems to want to be anywhere but there, listening to her tell her life story. Initially, not unlike the slightly spoiled boy, you sit there, wondering about this woeful tale that sounds as if it would be pretty mundane, aside from the ecelctic selection of souven ...more
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Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also enj ...more
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“Love is like moonlight or thunder, or rain on a tin roof in the middle of the night; it is one of those things in life that is truly worth knowing.” 49 likes
“I want my life to be mystifying," she declared, although she didn't know what she meant.” 30 likes
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