Heidi's Reviews > Preloved

Preloved by Shirley Marr
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's review
Jan 02, 2012

really liked it
Read in June, 2012

Four stars: A coming of age story with a sweet ghostly romance and eighties flashbacks!

Amy heads to school with her best pal Rebecca.  It is an eighties themed dress up day at school.  Amy is dressed as Buttercup from her favorite movie, The Princess Bride, while the lovely Rebecca with her blue hair looks stunning as pop star Kylie Minogue.  Amy is used to being in Rebecca's shadow.  Rebecca with her striking looks, turns all the boys' heads.  Today is no different as they reach the fountain that is overgrown with algae and rather nasty, they meet a pack of Rebecca admirers in their eighties gear.  An inadvertent shove lands Rebecca and Amy into the murky water.  As the pair sputters out of the fountain, Amy notices something caught in Rebecca's hair.  It is a cheap plastic heart locket with a rainbow on the back.  Amy tugs it out of Rebecca's hair and offers it to her, but she refuses it, so Amy keeps the locket.  Despite the repeated warnings from her mother never to open something you find for fear of attracting a ghost, Amy manages to finally get the locket open.  Shortly thereafter, she starts seeing a mysterious new boy dressed up for eighties day.  When she sees him later that night in her room, Amy begins to suspect she had indeed attracted a ghost.  Will this strange ghost from the eighties bring her harm or worse steal her heart?

What I Liked:
*I adored Amy's Chinese mother.  She retains some of the typical qualities you would expect from a Chinese mother but she also goes against tradition, so you end up with a single mother who is somewhat strict, emotionally distant, eccentric and extremely superstitious.  I loved all the advice she gives Amy regarding ghosts.  Some of her antidotes are downright hilarious like putting your underwear on your head to confuse the ghost.  Truly, these fun quips were my favorite part of the book.  Yet, Amy's mother is so much more.  She went against the expected norms and left Amy's ridiculous father and fights daily to make it on her own.  She is such an interesting and unique character! 
*I had so much fun with the throwback to the eighties.  Ms. Marr brings back of flood of memories from this decade, especially since the majority of my childhood and teenage years occurred during this time period.  I especially enjoyed the use of eighties slang and phrases when they were uttered to a modern day teenage.  The subsequent interpretation of these catch phrases was funny.  If you are a child of the eighties you will enjoy the stroll down memory lane and even you aren't it is loads of fun. Don't worry the references aren't overly abundant, just the right touch.
*At the heart of the story is a bittersweet little romance between Amy and the ghostly eighties boy, Logan.  Of course, a romance between a girl and a ghost can only have a sad outcome, but the journey was sweet and fun and ultimately it ended up being something more as Amy learns a few things along the way about herself.  In the end she lets go of some loose baggage, learns to accept some things, appreciate and love her mother even more and finally to allow herself to open up to other people.  At the end of the book I had high hopes for Amy, that she was just beginning to blossom.   
*I think one other aspect of this book that really spoke to me was the relationship between Amy and her mother.  Sure she loves and appreciates her mom, but as the story unfolds they bond in new ways and at the end there is a deep new appreciation and she learns it is okay to hug your mom.  I loved this part of the story.

And The Not So Much:
*I enjoyed Logan and the ghost aspect of the story but I was left confused about why Logan resurfaced after all these years and how the locket came to be in the fountain.  Was Logan looking for redemption, closure or something else?  I never felt like I had a true understanding of why he was haunting Amy.  At the end, I wanted more details on the circumstances of his demise as well. 
*Toward the end of the book the concept of reincarnation was introduced.  For me it felt a little jarring and I just didn't feel that it integrated seamlessly into the overall story.

Preloved, Ms. Marr's sophomore novel is nothing like its predecessor, Fury.  This book relies on a nostalgic look back at the eighties as a young girl grapples with her own identity all while she falls in love with a ghost.  It is a simple, sweet coming of age story that will make you smile.  The romance is bittersweet and fun.  I enjoyed Amy, she is a character with a great sense of humor and spunk.  Preloved reminds you to appreciate the good things in life, even the stuff that is handed down to you and comes already preloved.

Favorite Quotations:

“If you're hoping to party like it's 1999 because Prince told you the world was going to end in 2000, then I'm sorry to disappoint you. We're still here.” 

"I see you, this girl who lives inside herself, invisible to everyone, even to herself. You're hungry for your mother's touch, hungry for your missing father. You're hungry for life and you're hungry to be a proper character in your own story." 

“I thought about Mum's vintage shop. How she believed that if she found something broken and lovingly put it back together, that someone would come along and love it again.”

“Amy, don’t bring an open umbrella into the house, because a ghost might be hiding under it.”

“Amy, don’t touch the sleep on a cat’s eyes and then touch your own eyes, because you will see ghosts.”

“Amy, never tweeze the hairs off the tops of your toes, or you will see ghosts.”

“I could feel my eyelids drooping.  In that space that exists between wake and sleep, I thought about how this should be the moment when we stare up at a ceiling decorated with glow-in-the-dark stars and have one of those “spend the night, but no sex” scenes out of a YA romance.”

“Amy, remember that if you get lost in a forest and the ghosts trick you into thinking every direction looks the same- take your undies off, put them over your head and spin around in a circle.  Then your path will be clear.”

“There is no ending to this story because, as I’ve realised, stories don’t have endings, only beginnings.”

A big thanks to Flannery over at the Readaventurer for putting this book on tour and sharing her copy with me. 

 Orginally posted @ http://rainydayramblings.typepad.com/

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