One for Sorrow
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One for Sorrow

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  337 ratings  ·  67 reviews
NOW THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE JAMIE MARKS IS DEAD

Part thriller, part ghost tale, part love story, One for Sorrow is a novel as timeless as The Catcher in the Rye and as hauntingly lyrical as The Lovely Bones. Christopher Barzak’s stunning debut tells of a teenage boy’s coming-of-age that begins with a shocking murder and ends with a reason to hope.

Adam McCormick had just tu...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Bantam
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Christopher
Aug 27, 2010 Christopher rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
One of my favorites. ;-)
Shaun Duke
Barzak's debut novel is a heavy hitter. It's a story of being a teenager in a dysfunctional family, going through the trials of the teenage life, of falling in love and having one's heart ripped out, of being confused about the world and about where you're supposed to be. It's about the emotional roller coaster that is the teenage years, dead friends, first loves, and trying to understand one's place in the world. It's the story of Adam, a fifteen-year-old boy who becomes friends with Jamie, som...more
Kathryn
Everyone needs to read this book.

Every once in a while, I let myself get talked into thinking I need to read some "real" literature and just pick something, and generally I feel completely apathetic about it at best, or downright hate it at worst (Frangipani, Everything Is Illuminated). Sometimes however, a non-fantasy book will catch my eye. I'll just instinctively know that I need to read it. I was walking out of the bookstore, and One For Sorrow was on the very end of the shelf; I glanced it...more
Eric Kibler
Take this book and put it on your bookshelf right between Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" and Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book". It belongs there, and that's a compliment.

It tackles the complicated emotional stew of adolescence and uses a teenager's relationship with ghosts, caught in between death and life, to do it.

I'm giving this book five stars even though it probably doesn't hit me as hard as it would a teenager. However, in the hands of a disaffected teen, this book would be powerful stuff...more
Kirsten
Jan 30, 2008 Kirsten rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kirsten by: Celia Marsh
One for Sorrow is a unique ghost story that goes in some unexpected directions. When Adam McCormick's classmate, Jamie, is killed, Adam finds himself obsessed with Jamie's death and the friendship that the two of them could have shared if they hadn't both been so hesitant. When Adam learns that Gracie, the girl who found Jamie's body, has been seeing Jamie's ghost, he purposefully seeks her out. What follows is a strange almost-love-triangle, as Adam is torn between his loyalty to Jamie and his...more
Haddayr
This book moved me. I believed it. I believe in the characters. It was so sad and beautiful and _honest._

It was also an incredibly creepy and interesting view of life and death. His ideas about what/where ghosts go, and their interactions with people . . . I believed Adam, and I believed _in_ him, and I believed his family and his town and his
random angry desperate wandering.

He is a lost boy in a town that everyone else has forgotten, and his family is unhappy and confused, but this is still a b...more
Cedony
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Res
The one where a kid is murdered and Adam befriends his ghost. I gave it 65 pages.

I had two problems with it: style and motivation. The style is a little too true to the way a fifteen-year-old might tell a story -- which is to say, meandering, repetitive, and trite. (In fact, all the actual fifteen-year-olds I know would probably do a better job than this, though maybe not on the first draft, which is what it reads like.)

And I couldn't make sense of why any of the characters made the choices the...more
Kelly
This book was well written overall (though some parts of it fell flat construction-wise) and had an interesting premise. Barzak has a talent for matter-of-factly inserting the bizarre into the everyday in a way that was compelling; I was reminded of some of Kelly Link's short stories in this respect (incidentally, she apparently liked this book, as she has a blurb on the back cover). I didn't find the protagonist to be a particularly sympathetic character, though (he's really whiny and convinced...more
Anthony
Barzak's novel, the basis for the soon-to-be-released motion picture Jamie Marks is Dead, can only be described as "haunting." I'm not trying to be clever or precious by describing a novel about ghosts with that word; I'm trying to capture the idea that months after reading it, the sense of the story still sticks with me. Certain scenes replay behind my closed eyes after I glance at the book cover or someone mentions it on Twitter or Facebook. Interestingly, not the scenes most heavily featured...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Christopher Barzak's One for Sorrow is a rare thing indeed--a horror novel with heart. It's not often that such a book, particularly a debut (Barzak's reputation comes from his short fiction), is described as "lovely, melancholy" (Village Voice). But Barzak balances his story's supernatural aspects, which he delivers with simple assuredness, with the uncertainties and complexities of adolescence. One for Sorrow has been compared to The Catcher in the Rye and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. In t

...more
Jessie Young
Very different. Refreshing. I'll be interested to see what the film's like
Carol
This was a good book, part young adult, part coming of age story. When Jamie Marks is found murdered, his would-be friend Adam becomes the only thing that keeps the murdered youth tethered to this life. But the tether that gives Jamie life sucks the life from Adam. Adam must decide to choose life and after that, must choose how to live. It starts with death and ends with life. Read it now so that when the movie comes out you have a comparison.
Claire
This story started with such an interesting premise and some really interesting and unexpected phrasing. My hopes were high for a little bit, but then the whole thing crashed into a muddle. The writer could have cut lots and lots out of this story. It seems like he just didn't know where to go with it after a certain point.
Tipper
Sometimes it was hard to read this book. It was so sad and depressing. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed it because I thought it was really different from any other story line I've read and an interesting look at dealing with grief. I myself was grieving when I read this and it gave me a small push toward moving on.
Matthew Sini
Just when you thought nothing interesting, moving and enjoyable could be done with the ghost story, Christopher Barzak comes up with One for Sorrow. Read this years ago and I still think of some of the images. Very evocative
Damian Serbu
I read a short story, that I believe then became this novel. This is incredibly well written. A coming of age story and ghost story all in one. Haunting and beautiful; creative and original. A wonderful read.
Samantha Davenport
Excellent coming of age novel with a supernatural twist. Captures "bleak" and makes it resonate. Lots of truth inside fine writing.

Post scriptum: also a protagonist who shares my opinion of Holden Caulfield!
Susan
Very unique and interesting story. I sat and read it through in less than a day. Easy read, and held my interest the entire time.
Maria Ciletti
What a great book! This book is not the regular type of book I read, but, wow!im so glad I read it. Great story!
Shari Spencer
Excellent book! I didn't want to put it down!
Lenny
great book!
Matt Cresswell
When I came across this online, I pigeon-holed it (immediately and unfairly–I really must learn not to do this) as a kind of ‘gay Lovely Bones‘. It’s not, not at all, except in the most superficial way; what it is, is exactly the novel I really wanted to read when I read The Lovely Bones back when I was seventeen.

Adam McCormick is a quiet, background kid in his school; his father is mid-level distant and angry, his older brother is a perma-stoned arsehole, and his mother, recently paralysed in a...more
_incubus
l'ho finito in treno... oddio che libro strano.. però gli ho messo quattro stellette lo stesso... perchè adam se le merita per il viaggio che ha fatto e perchè non ha abbandonato jamie, non l'ha dimenticato ma è riuscito ad andare avanti, e perchè girasole è una parola bellissima *-*

cmq... di cosa parla questo libro? della morte, della speranza, dell'amicizia, dell'amore, della famiglia, del fatto che si può sempre correre e di un viaggio; un viaggio che il protagonista fa sia materialmente che

...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle
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Sarah
One For Sorrow. Christopher Barzak. 2007. Bantam. 306 pages. ISBN 9780553384369.

One For Sorrow is Christopher Barzak's debut novel, about a teenage boy named Adam who forges an odd bond with a reclusive boy from his school named Jamie. When Jamie's body is discovered near train-tracks in the nearby woods, he appears in the form of a ghost to Adam, who then decides to embark on building a deeper friendship with him.

According to the synopsis for One For Sorrow, the novel is comparable to Salinger'...more
Barbara Gordon
When Adam's classmate and almost-friend Jamie is murdered, his ghost comes to Adam for comfort and acknowledgement. Adam too needs comfort, as his family breaks apart and he slides from his high-school niche of nobody-much to outcast status. Even though Jamie's ghost-world is cold and dangerous, with skinless men lurking by the gates, it is a place where Adam seems to have purpose, and for a time living companionship with the girl who found Jamie's body and is also haunted by him.
One for Sorrow...more
Justin Borek
I think the best summary of this book I've read so far described it as a "homo-erotic ghost story". While that may be an overly simplified description, if that doesn't pique your interest, you should probably just avoid this read. Barzak starts off with a premise that has worked well in other stories, such as The Body by Stephen King. It's basically a coming of age/loss of innocence tale involving a teenager's reaction to the murder of a boy at his school. Then it all goes down the crapper.

What...more
Trin
Res gave this one a thumbs-down and I really should have listened to her. But I was like, “It’s a homoerotic ghost story! There’s gotta be something in there I’ll like!” Uh, yeah. No. There really isn’t.

All the characters in this book make incredibly irrational decisions, which is especially annoying in the case of the narrator, whose head we’re supposed to be in. Yet we never get to see any of his thought processes. It’s a really baffling way to tell a story—I felt so disconnected from what was...more
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Endicott Mythic F...: One for Sorrow: A Novel - Q&A with Christopher Barzak 18 70 Jan 12, 2010 07:38PM  
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Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Fantasy Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which has been made into the Sundance feature film "Jamie Marks is Dead". His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula and Tiptree Awards. He is also the author of two collections: Birds and Birthdays, a collection of surrealist fantasy stories, and Before and Afterli...more
More about Christopher Barzak...
The Love We Share Without Knowing Before and Afterlives Birds and Birthdays The Language of Moths Sister Twelve: Confessions of a Party Monster

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“Sometimes you've got to be able to listen to yourself and be okay with no one else understanding.” 50 likes
“Don’t ever put your happiness in someone else’s hands. They’ll drop it. They’ll drop it every time.” 31 likes
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