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Vintage: A Ghost Story

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In a small New Jersey town a lonely boy walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With a cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.

A finalist for the Andre Norton Award for best speculative fiction young adult novel.

164 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2007

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About the author

Steve Berman

103 books107 followers
Some tidbits about me...

I turned down a scholarship to Miskatonic University because I heard of the high rate of incidents against the student population.

I briefly worked for Omni Consumer Products in their Marketing Department. Great benefits, nice cafeteria, sadly too prone to executive whim.

Last year I stayed at the noted Mauna Pele resort in Hawaii. The accommodations were impressive but my traveling companion disappeared soon after wanting to attend a pig roast.

I've slept with one minor porn star and with a guy who later became one.

And I happen to have written some fanfic that inspired the memorable holodeck scene in Star Trek: Hidden Frontiers episode "Vigil"

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 192 reviews
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,579 reviews104 followers
January 16, 2019
This was interesting enough to keep my attention, and it thankfully wasn't a ghost love story, because that concept is just weird. What else is weird is that the MC is never named. Not once. So I'll call him Melindo (Gordon) because why not.

Melindo is 17 and lives with his aunt after his parents kicked him out of the home for being gay. He stumbles upon a ghost one night while walking home, only to find out the ghost is his town's very own urban legend. Josh was killed in the 50s on that stretch of road and has been seen walking it ever since. Melindo is actually able to talk to Josh. Josh is hot and Melindo is horny and desperate, so why not see where this goes, right?

Um...because Josh is a ghost. That might be a reason. IJS.

It was a little strange for Melindo and his best friend Trace to be so blasé about Melindo's ghost whispering abilities. Sure, they're into the macabre and they crash funerals for funsies, but at some point, I'd have expected them to step back and question reality just a little.

I liked that Trace wasn't the overbearing girl friend so typical of M/M (probably helps that this isn't actually M/M) and that the ghost story doesn't go in quite the direction I expected. Melindo's aunt was pretty cool, and I liked Second Mike a lot. Still, I never felt like I connected with any of the characters or really cared about what would happen in the end. It was a quick read though, and the writing flowed well, so it was a nice way to spend a couple of days.
Profile Image for Jean Roberta.
Author 78 books33 followers
April 1, 2010
A good novel about teenagers is hard to find. The ones written by precocious teenage authors are likely to seem raw around the edges, and the ones written by adults are likely to sound patronizing or formula-driven. Vintage is that rare thing, an interesting novel about teenagers as complex human beings with emotional depth and an awareness of their place in history. These kids are all right, Goth style and all.

The seventeen-year-old male narrator knows that his parents would never accept his sexual orientation (gay), which is why he lives with his Aunt Jan, who is generous and accepting but a terrible cook. His best friend, a girl named Trace, lives with her distracted father and younger brother, Second Mike, in a house that seems to be haunted by an older son, the first Mike, who disappeared years before, sending the mother of the family into a downward spiral that led her to the mental hospital where she has lived for years. Liz, a lesbian friend, has rich parents who are rarely home; they work long hours and travel without their daughter. These kids are virtual orphans, but they are refreshingly free of self-pity. The understated narrative style brings the reader into their lives without drama.

The novel is organized like a diary, in which each chapter is named for a day of the week. The reader follows the narrator, learning that his time with friends (especially with Trace, whom he admires for her grace and style) is the high point of an average day.

The narrator has temporarily dropped out of high school and found an undemanding job as assistant to an eccentric man who runs a vintage clothing store. In some sense, the narrator has dropped out of time after a failed suicide attempt. He agrees with Aunt Jan's opinion that he needs a GED, but he has no desire to return to the conformist torture of high school. For the meanwhile, he is drawn to the funerals of people he never knew and to the clothing styles of forty years before (the late 1950s), which he can always borrow from the shop where he works.

The narrator's personal brush with death, his attraction to other boys and his interest in the past seem to open the veil between the worlds which normally seems to prevent contact between the dead and the living. A high school athlete in vintage clothes, with poster-quality good looks, appears on a lonely stretch of highway and speaks to the narrator. Will this brief meeting lead to a too-good-to-be-true relationship between a popular guy and a geek?

The narrator asks Trace what she knows, and he learns the history of the handsome boy, Josh, who seems to be stuck in an eternal purgatory of walking home, night after night, without ever reaching his destination. With appealing modesty, the narrator wonders why Josh would be attracted to him. He only asks later whether it is fatal for a live mortal to be sexually attracted to a ghost.

For better and worse, other people and events demand the narrator's attention. His increasing knowledge of the circumstances that led Josh to walk down the highway night after night makes him aware of how the past has influenced the present. His ability to communicate with the dead leads to a terrifying but enlightening evening in the local cemetery, and to a determination to help First Mike and the rest of his family learn what happened to him and come to terms with it.

The narrator is amazed to realize that he is not only wanted by a ghost but by a live boy as well. After a cuddly but chaste night with a guest in his bed, the narrator creeps down the hall to find out if his aunt is home. He returns to a surprise:

I found him already dressed and smoothing the folded covers. I stood in the doorway, blinking at the sight. He had made my bed. He had made my bed! I think that was the first time that had ever been done--I mean, no matter where I lived, the bed simply stayed perpetually slept in.

The narrator is becoming aware of what it would be like to live--in every sense of the word--with someone who cares for him. This awareness helps him decide what to do. By the time the conflict between life (change) and death (stagnation) reaches its highest point, the reader is cheering for the narrator and his developing relationships with other live people.

By the conclusion, the narrator seems to be headed toward a relatively happy future, but he can never forget the presence of something beyond the visible present. His boyfriend tells him:

“I love your costume.” He took a sip of his hot chocolate.

I looked down at myself. I wore my normal basic black. I gave him a quizzical look.

“Just you, silly.”

I smiled and leaned in real close, so close that my lips brushed against his ear. “I love you back,” I said softly. I hoped he was the only one who heard me.

The world of this novel has the charm and unpredictability of real life. Be warned: this story will haunt you for much longer than it takes to read.

Profile Image for Lena Grey.
1,544 reviews22 followers
October 2, 2011
Generally, ghost stories tend to distress rather than soothe me; however, Steve Berman's ghost story, 'Vintage' was an exception. His ghosts and the paranormal events connected with them, were introduced so nonchalantly that their existence seemed almost like a normal, everyday occurrence. It was interesting how Steve Berman used clothing to link past and present. Each costume had its own story to tell and provided clues to help solve the story's mysteries. “Vintage' is also the first story I've read in which the narrator, who was also the main character, wasn't introduced in the beginning of the book. When he is introduced, on Page 86, only his last name is mentioned. Second Mike: “So what about you? Vesely’s an odd last name.” I can only venture to guess that it made him easier for anyone to identify with his dilemma.

Our narrator, a gay teenager deeply engrossed in the Goth culture, jumped off the page and into my heart immediately. I was impressed with his strength and determination to keep going despite the odds. His loneliness and isolation made my heart ache. I wanted to reassure him that he would meet someone with a soul as beautiful as his was and would have no problem winning his heart. I had a bad feeling when the ghost, Josh, appeared to him and wanted to warn him that a boyfriend who was a ghost was not only impractical, but was a risky proposition, fraught with unpredictable consequences. However, he handled his relationship with Josh so casually that I almost forgot that he was a ghost and hoped that somehow it could work out for them. At other times though, I was frightfully aware of Josh's threatening other worldly behavior. I admired the young man's ability to accept his intuitive gift and his willingness not only to help put Josh to rest, but also to solve another mystery, therefore giving closure to Trace's family.

NOTE: This book was provided by Lethe Press for the purpose of a review on Queer Magazine Online

Trace is the shining star in his otherwise bleak existence. She is a simply awesome friend, always there for him, caring and sharing, offering the acceptance which others deny him. Trace provides him with the encouragement he needs. Their relationship epitomizes the term BBF, Best Friends Forever. Trace's younger brother, Second Mike, represents all that is good and innocent in youth. He lives in his older brother's shadow, even sharing his name. Despite all of this, Mike manages to find his individuality through his art, which paves the way for a loving relationship between him and our narrator. I thought that Steve Berman handled their budding relationship with grace and sensitivity, especially in relation to the boys’ decision to go slow and allow their relationship to unfold naturally, rather than rushing into anything more serious.

'Vintage' is a lot of experiences marvelously woven together. It's not only a ghost story filled with frightening other worldly images; it is also about the angst of being a teenager and gay and wanting to belong, be accepted, and loved. Although written specifically for young adults, it's a story with a universal message from which anyone can benefit.
Profile Image for Teal.
597 reviews190 followers
January 27, 2018
*** 3.5 stars ***

A strong 1st-person voice and a cast of utterly non-stereotypical characters made this an easy story to sink into. As the narrator (unnamed, which I never noticed while reading the book!) discovers his ability to see and communicate with ghosts, the story takes on a creepy edge; one scene actually frightened me. (I'm a sissy that way, so YMMV.)

I found the first half of the book noticeably stronger than the second half; the latter seemed a bit disjointed somehow, not as polished -- thus the loss of half a star. This was my introduction to Steve Berman's work, and as far as I'm concerned he's a keeper.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,514 followers
May 3, 2011
Steve Berman does a lot of anthologies, but I really like his own writing and this young-adult book has a good mix of character, tone and plot. In fact, other than the age of the characters, it doesn't have that consciously young-adult tone that some otherwise good YA books do. I keep hoping for a sequel, but no luck so far.
Profile Image for Lauren Barrett.
25 reviews
October 5, 2011
I picked up “Vintage” when reading an article about the lack of good gay/lesbian young adult fiction. This is a great example of the genre.

The narrator of “Vintage” is a teen whose personal life is in an upset. Remember all the angsty poetry? Don’t lie. I know you’ve written some.

After being outed as gay to his parents and half his hometown, he finds refuge in a creepy little town in New Jersey where he makes friends with a girl interested in all things macabre. Their favorite pastime is dressing up and going to funerals. Until he discovers that the dead can hear his voice...

When he meets the wanderer of highway 47, he thinks having an attractive dead guy’s attention is exciting, but as his encounters with spirits intensify, this ghost becomes too much for him to handle alone.


This read is definitely for older teens and adults due to casual drug use and sexual scenes.

That being said, what I loved about this story was the unapologetic view of the teen experience. There was underage drinking and drug use as casual as I remember from when I was a teenager. There were no “but it’s bad for you” add ins to take away from the authenticity. The now historic mention of huffing, which peaked in the 1990’s, was a very creative touch.

There was sexual content without it being overwhelming. It didn’t overshadow the rest of the book as it commonly does in romance. This may have had to do with the fact that “Vintage” is also a horror and certain scenes will leave you replaying them in your head after all the lights are off.

I am an avid reader of horror, but even I had to decide not to read a certain scene too close to bedtime. Horrifying rhyming baby dolls do that to me.

Berman’s rules for ghosts and the human mediums they stalk were original and believable. The suspense, horror, and blooming romance kept me turning to the last page.
Profile Image for John.
307 reviews4 followers
October 20, 2013
This book felt strangely both too long and too short (but that didn't average out to just right). There were a lot of side-stories that felt completely unneeded. Like, why do we need the lesbian couple? And moreover, why do we have to witness their fight? And why does the main character have to go to Philly with one of the lesbians and her parents? Completely superfluous to the actual plot.

That being said, the main plot was well-told. Just somehow felt too fast, like more could have been put into the main plot instead of just padding it with other characters.

Lastly, I really didn't like how much drug use there was in this book. The main character once tried to commit suicide by taking a bunch of prescription medications (but at least this was integral to the story). One ghost character we meet had died while huffing. The main group of friends have a game where they all drink Kool-Aid and vodka or Everclear (keep in mind these kids are all under age 18), but in one cup is a ground-up pill from their mother's medicine cabinet. While in Philly, the main character and his friend do E. Now that I sit and type them all out, it feels like even more than it was.
Profile Image for Justin Nova.
215 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2016
*** Audio***
Interesting book! Loved the narration! I literally jumped out of my seat a few times while listening. I'll look for more from this author and definitely the narrator.
Profile Image for 'Nathan Burgoine.
Author 47 books416 followers
February 11, 2012
To say that VINTAGE stole all my attention over the last two days would be understating. My Kobo and I were inseparable, sneaking a read on breaks and bus rides, at breakfast and dinner, and finally, the last few pages before bed.

I loved this.

It's not often I feel lucky enough to find a young adult book where the protagonist is a well-written gay teen, and it's even less often that teen isn't your typical example. The goth, vintage clothes loving voice in this book was a delight.

Having run away from parents who absolutely will not accept him, the young man in VINTAGE comes to live with his aunt in a small town in New Jersey. He's a little lost, though he has a good group of equally marginalized friends, and works at a vintage clothing store and tries to find a future for himself. He has tried to commit suicide, but has moved past this to some hesitant sense of finding a life for himself.

Enter Josh, who the narrator meets on a long walk home at night. A handsome young man in fifties wear, the clothes grant the main character just enough courage to speak, and the two connect.

Except Josh isn't a lover of fifties wear who enjoys a retro look; he's dead. Our narrator has just crushed out on a ghost.

In turns fun, moving, dark, and tense, VINTAGE belongs on the shelf of great young adult fiction. Connecting with the character is effortless, and the growing tension and worry you feel on his behalf will drag you in, page after page. Grab it. You won't be sorry.
Profile Image for Cindi.
1,568 reviews81 followers
September 4, 2013
4.5 stars

While searching for a unique YA book I stumbled upon Vintage: A Ghost Story. I decided to take a chance with no clue of what I was getting into. I am so glad I did. This book could never be classified as more of the same. While the characters are all in their teens and they have the same issues that most teenagers deal with, the MC in this story is faced with things most aren't... one being a ghost named Josh Wyle. A ghost who became a legend in the area after he was struck and killed by a car on a lonely stretch of road decades earlier. The MC not only sees Josh but he also has contact with him.. often.

The book is a little on the creepy side and some may find parts disturbing. I personally feel that it is brilliantly written and it kept me entertained throughout. Highly recommended.

Full review can be found at Greedy Bug Book Reviews.
Profile Image for Ami.
5,813 reviews499 followers
January 18, 2010
4.5 stars

"In a small town, a lonely teen walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road" ...

Reading that blurb, I thought the angst love story will happen between the hero and the ghost. Until further along the story, the "relationship" turns to sinister, as Josh (the ghost) seems to be jealous of our unnamed hero (we only know his last name, Vesely), and was able to do more harm. I thought the story was really ENCHANTING. Our unnamed hero and his groups of friends, as well as his prospective lover, his best friend's kid brother are all appaling. The story is poignant and captivating. The building romance, the background story of the ghosts ... and some of the scenes are pretty creepy. I love this one so much, I finish it in one sitting.
Profile Image for ⚣Michaelle⚣.
3,672 reviews204 followers
May 24, 2017
3.8 Stars

YA is usually hit or miss with me...but I liked the YA aspects of this story quite a bit. It was the ghosty/medium MC-part of the plot that kinda fell flat...although I can appreciate the not-so-subtle message/warning against desiring the unattainable, the seemingly perfect, when what you really want and need can be right in front of you.

I also liked the side-characters more than I did protagonist or his love interest - who are like 17/18 and 14/15 respectively...but since the book has very little sexual content it wasn't terrible awkward.

(Honestly, it kind of read/sounded like maybe a flashback episode of Medium if Allison had been a gay teen boy estranged from immediate family.)
Profile Image for J..
Author 7 books40 followers
March 14, 2017
A superb YA ghost story and an excellent YA gay romance novel rolled into one. My only complaint is that I would have loved to,live in this world longer--could have gone on another hundred pages with no complain from me. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kassa.
1,118 reviews108 followers
February 11, 2010
This book is a few years old and has been re-released by Lethe Press, receiving glowing accolades from almost every corner. As a fan of Berman’s writing, I expected Vintage to delight and enthrall while offering more questions and possibilities as his stories inevitably do. Thankfully Vintage offered all I was expecting and more, bringing a new challenge in writing a review for a story that has been so thoroughly covered and lauded. So if anything I have to offer has already been said, hopefully the very least you’ll get out of this is to read the book if you haven’t and read it again if you have.

The story begins with the first person narrator, an unnamed youth, who runs into a ghost on a deserted highway. He soon finds out the ghost is actually the small town’s local legend of a young jock that was killed in 1957. When the narrator is able to speak and interact with the ghost, this sets off a series of chain reactive events. As if dealing with an emotionally needy and disturbed ghost isn’t difficult enough, the narrator is also torn between his feelings for the dead ghost and a very real boy. Not to mention his group of dysfunctional friends who want him and his advice.

Vintage is a very classic ghost story, relying on common themes and urban legends to create the setting and plot. Berman’s real talent then comes into play with his subtle but brilliant characterization and humorous, engaging prose. Here an unnamed 17 year-old narrator creates a main protagonist that everyone can relate to, a nameless outsider who struggles against acceptance and wonders if he’ll always be alone. He experiences conflicts with himself and others over his sexuality, his ability, his desires, and his actions, which parallel the ghost’s in some ways and their early co-dependence on each other is easy to understand. Thankfully the narrator uses humor and insight to realize the absurdity of dating a ghost, yet the haunting emotions linger even in the face of reality. It’s only the presence of another boy that allows the narrator to move beyond his fear and illusions into something real. He also has a small group of friends who in many ways typify modern goth teenagers with their obsession with death, reckless drugs, and embracing their different status. However these teenagers could easily be any group of disaffected youth, shunned and out of place as they struggle to find themselves and their future. The subtly of detail shines where the book doesn’t try to overwhelm with description, but instead lets the idea and feeling of the characters convey to the reader. If just a few details were changed these characters easily could be any other group of teenagers.

The secondary characters are well drawn with an implied background rather than explicitly stated. The book allows readers to infer information without needing to add lengthy narratives to explain each person’s past. This is done with clever prose and dialogue, incorporating pop culture without relying on the knowledge too heavily. Trace, the female best friend that transcends the fag hag stereotype is shown to have a difficult childhood with just a few sentences. The dialogue and commentary give rise to a young woman who shares a close friendship with the narrator without relying on him. If anything, she is the stronger of the two characters as she struggles to take the mothering role in her family. Her brother, Second Mike, is the youngest character at fifteen and shows both immaturity and intelligence. He’s at that coming of age stage and the book shows his past in such spine tingling moments as the narrator’s comment “how many times had I mistaken what-I-thought-was Second Mike in the house for his dead brother? Once or twice? Countless times?”

That comment also brings into focus the narrator’s ability to see ghosts. Although he sees the urban legend ghost on the highway early in the book, slowly the narrator comes to realize he can see many, many other ghosts. He never recognized what he was seeing as supernatural and what seems at first a cool connection to a hot dead guy, soon becomes scary and potentially harmful. The seamless transition brings about a creepy and downright scary feeling to the book without needing to terrify or use gore and horror. The emotional needs of the living and the dead offer poignant scenes set in graveyards and cobweb filled attics. The desire for love and companionship fills the pages as each character makes and breaks connections while searching for an elusive happiness.

The tightly worded story wastes very little and almost everything has a purpose and connection. The few scenes between the narrator, Liz, and Maggie are perhaps the weakest and least driven. These show another side to all the characters, but if anything these could have been omitted as the real intensity and driving force occurs elsewhere. When the story focuses on the narrator, Josh, Mike, and Trace, the writing is at its most engaging and absorbing. The clever descriptions, witty dialogue, and relatable sense of character and plot all combine to deliver a classic story that can be enjoyed and loved at all ages. From the small details of the vintage shop and love of classic clothing to nuanced characters and subtle depths of emotion, the story delivers a beautiful and poignant tale in a light, easy manner that will resonate with readers. I highly suggest you check this out.
Profile Image for Resch Reads.
1,067 reviews33 followers
January 6, 2021
*Book Received in Exchange for Honest Opinion/Review*

This book was a ride. Part mystery, part horror, part ghost story, part romance...all captivating, I quickly found myself sucked into this intriguing new world. The book starts off with a delightful Introduction by Holly Black who sets the tone for a story that will haunt my memories.

First off, I have to say that this is one of the most unique YA books I have ever read. The story is set in 1997 and it's a startling reminder of how much the world has changed in the past 20-some years but yet a reminder of how far it still has to go. The book centers around an elusive, lost young man (MC), who fled home after being ousted as gay. He escapes to his Aunt's house and befriends a girl named Trace. Along the way of making new friends, finding his footing in a new town, and struggling to accept himself, he realizes he can see ghosts.

The story carries and undercurrent of a message and that is that most people at the end of the day just want to be loved. Which is truly how the MC finds himself in this situation to begin with. He learns that not all love is equal or welcomed from his encounters with his first ghost. As the MC encounters more and more ghost throughout the story, some friendly and some frightful, things start to go awry. 

It ends up being such a complex, well crafted journey. The storyline and characters interwoven together with overlapping history that had me reeling when revealed. I don't want to spoil the plot but the MC really has to go through some trials and tribulations to find his little slice of happiness. This is the type of story I would enjoy reading each year when Halloween rolls around. 
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,490 reviews426 followers
January 7, 2021
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.75 stars

This story is very much a gothic romance, replete with romance, fear, mystery, and mood. There is a cemetery, a woman driven mad by loss and the lingering presence of her missing child, and ghosts of the past haunting the present. It’s about a young man struggling against the lure of the grave and the ghosts who reach for him. It’s lyrical and lovely and languid, and it all takes place in a melancholy, atmospheric autumn.

This book has so much mood in it, so much atmosphere that it may not be to everyone’s taste. But I found it to have a quiet thoughtfulness, an introspective sincerity that appealed to me. The small touches, such as the world building with the ghosts, felt familiar. Not in the “seen that” way, but in the comfort of something familiar, the fondness of nostalgia. Personally, it reads very much like a late ‘90s paranormal book or TV show, because it was, originally, written in the late ’90s. It’s that sincerity that helps it feel grounded and real rather than a costume put on for effect. The characters are very much a part of their time, and their world view, their approach to ghosts and rituals and relationships, are in keeping with the reality of the story.

Read Elizabeth’s review in its entirety here.
Profile Image for BingeOnBooks.
11 reviews43 followers
May 19, 2012
From our review at iloveyafiction.com/vintage-by-steve-b...

If, like me, you were one of those misguided and angsty teens who liked to dye their hair and your wardrobe consisted of thrift store t-shirts along with ripped black Chuck Taylors with lots of safety pins, then this book is for you. Heck, I’ll take it a step further. If you were a disaffected teen just hoping to fit in (and let’s face it, pretty much all teenagers fall into this category unless they’re, like, that one magical teen who didn’t get zits, had fabulous fashion sense, and automatically understood their place in the world) then this book is for you too. Steve Berman’s main character is the quintessential teen. He’s the every man that we can all relate to. He’s nameless and practically faceless in that we never receive an adequate description of him and no matter how close he gets to people, he never quite fits in. Couple that with the fact that he’s gay and that he begins to see ghosts and you get a poor kid that doesn’t stand a chance. It’s a feeling we can all relate to. Steve Berman’s writing is really fluid as well, creating a believable situation involving the Gothic teenage element that doesn’t seem morbid or pathetic. Too often high school angst stories feel schmaltzy or forced but this is spot on. Even the inclusion of ghosts and the supernatural isn’t odd. It’s believable. It’s as if Berman just opened our eyes to the fact that those elements existed not that he was creating them. The ghosts are tortured souls that mirror the living teens the main character deals with. It’s all very spooky and gothic and is exactly what I had wished would happen to me when I was younger. But let’s face it: nobody ran into a ghost at the Piggly Wiggly down the street! Boo!

This book is short (too short, Steve Berman, too short!) and sweet but it’s a very compelling read about a teen learning to fit in and accept who he is. There’s some romance, some supernatural, some coming of age stuff, and ultimately, some transformation of the main character. Even if the end feels as if it happens too quickly, you’ll love the writing style and the quirky main characters who will remind you of your own high school buddies.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ryn.
141 reviews10 followers
October 9, 2010
So apparently I'm the only human being in the world who didn't like this book. It had rave reviews, which is why I picked it up, and I loved the synopsis, so I was totally expecting a good read.

First of all, let me confess that I would sell my soul for slash fanfiction. Specifically, for Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy or Severus Snape/Harry Potter fanfiction. Since I got into the ships (HP/DM was my OTP until SS/HP became my guilty pleasure), I've found that I can't read or see het relationships without finding a slash ship that I think would have worked better. It's horrible. And no femslash, oh no... It's like I suddenly wish the females would just... disappear so that they guys can realize that they belonged together all along.

So I really wanted to love this book! I've been trying to find good slash novels, and this was the first step! I couldn't wait to read it!

And then I read it.

Anywho. I LOVED Second Mike and his relationship with the main character, and I liked the whole Maggie/Liz thing, which is new for me! The main character was pretty cool too, and I liked the more day-to-day issues the characters faced. However, I thought that the main plot point was kind of childish and weak.

Again, this book kind of reminded me of another that was better: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. No slash, but very well written, with some pretty sweet twists.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for C. McKenzie.
Author 22 books421 followers
August 27, 2015
I have to say up front that this is the first gay ghost story I've ever read, and it was quite by accident, but as I'm beginning to understand, there are no accidents. Once I realized I'd bought a book that would be about boys in love with each other, I wasn't sure I'd like the story. The opposite is what happened. Berman drew me into Josh's tragic death and the main character's ernest and poignant determination to bring an end to Josh's earthbound existence. While this is a story about gay love, it transcends sexual preference and tells about how devastating the idea of being jilted can be during the teen years.

I loved that the author didn't stint on his other characters. Aunt Jan, Trace, Malvern and Maggie made up a supporting cast of believable and interesting characters. And the pace of the book wouldn't allow me to stop reading until I'd reached the end.
Profile Image for Chanelle Gruca.
277 reviews3 followers
July 14, 2021
I received an ARC copy of the 13th anniversary re-release of this story.

Set around Halloween in 1997, the autumnal vibes that this book throws off is immaculate. Honestly that had to be the best part of the book for me. Who doesn't love the crisp air? Scent of leaves? Plus the spooky ghost stories associated with this season?

That's one of the main focuses of this book. The spiritual world is more active around Halloween. When a local "legend"/ghost story seems to be coming alive for the 17 main character, it's hard for him to stop seeing ghosts. His goal is to find out how to allow them to finally have eternal peace. Especially one in particular, Josh.

Now the second main focus of this book is slightly more "taboo" during the time whenever this was originally written in 1997 and finalized in 2007. Gay, or same sex relationships. Coming of age, in a much more difficult fashion. The main character faces criticism from his friends and family while trying to find himself. Then you throw ghosts into the mix? I was hooked!

But some parts of the book felt repetive or lacking. I wanted more and less at the same time. Overall though this was a fantastic YA story.
Profile Image for Meep.
2,061 reviews201 followers
January 12, 2023

A whiny discontent goth kid without a name.
No reactions or question on seeing ghosts.
The friend's and their families actually seem weirder than any ghost.
Popping E like it's a non-issue.
Profile Image for Joana.
554 reviews10 followers
August 16, 2021
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book, and I ended up being so pleasantly surprised and enjoying this so much more than I expected, also the story ended up going places I did not expect.
First of all, I really LOVE the mood of the book - the darkness and mystery of it that does not come from horror or thriller, but it's just build into the story. The story taking place over such a short time, and with scenes mostly at night lends itself so well to this being a ghost story!!!
And then the characters are great!!! The main character, who I hadn't even consciously realize was unnamed until the end, is very interesting, this curious boy, dealing with first loves but also the uncertainty of being gay in the world, is paired up with Trace, his best friend, and this girl is cool and supportive and very morbid, and they both balance each other so well - I feel this relationship is at the core of the book, and I LOVE seeing a friendship treated as importantly as a love story!!!! And then some other friends move around and close the group, in a way that just fits and feels organic, and is just fun to watch, I don't wanna give much away about them, but I'll say there are more gay people in their friend group, which is excellent because as a queer person having queer friends can feel liberating!!!
And then Josh, the ghost, I don't want to give much away about him, but his story surprised me, time and time again. It just went where I wasn't expecting it to go, and it's always nice and interesting to also read about older gay experiences, in this case Josh had lived in the 50's
This is a super fun and sort of spooky book, with such grounded characters and relationships that really makes it stand out!!! A clear recommendation in my eyes, especially as we approach fall season!!!!

I received this book through BookSirens in exchange of an honest review :)
Profile Image for Laura.
625 reviews28 followers
October 25, 2021
First off I would like to thank Steve Berman for the gift of this book. I was captivated by the story and characters involved in this ghost story.
Profile Image for Julia Walker.
662 reviews14 followers
December 30, 2020
This is a most unusual story but it is one of the best coming of age stories I have read. It includes a young goth homosexual coming to terms with his identity in a small town that he has just moved to after his parents disowned him for his sexuality. In this town, he discovers who he is and what life is really all about. He finds unconditional love, acceptance, and a ghost. I cannot reveal much more because I certainly do not want to ruin the book for anyone. What I will tell you is that it is wonderfully descriptive, the characters are three dimensional and dynamic. The sense of emotion through the book is strong, real, and at times bewildering. There is enough of the macabre to satisfy anyone interested in a darker side of things but plenty of hope for the more conservative. It is simply an excellent read for both young adults and adults.
Profile Image for Seth.
71 reviews4 followers
January 31, 2010
I rated this 2 stars for mostly one reason. I have no idea who the target audience is. I'm going to break it down into pros and cons.

The characters are fairly realistic (though I thought the main character was a little too compliant with most things), and the plot, overall, fairly interesting. Nothing groundbreaking here. It's a typical coming-out story filled with conveniently place gay boys (and ghosts) for the protagonist to get involved with and come to terms.

Cons: In my opinion, the book was overly sexualized for a YA read. This wouldn't be bad if it weren't for the fact that it's written at a level and style for YA readers. There is some graphic content, drug use, and language. Again not a problem in and of itself. This book, however, gives me the feeling that it was written to reach out to gay youth who need to feel contact with a gay identity and perhaps a protagonist they can relate to (or who can relate to them). This audience, however, falls apart when you think about where this book would be offered. Certainly not in most elementary/junior high libraries. Public library? Yes. But it's the kind of book you would have to secret away and hide from your parents, (for a number or content reasons) and I'm not really sure that's healthy or productive for gay teens (as they are probably doing that already).
The protagonists parents, whom he ran away from, are absolute monsters. I know that this sometimes happens, but I also feel like this is maybe not the best signal to give to kids wondering about outing themselves.

I don't know. Overall, it was a straight-forward read that offered me just what I expected from a paranormal m-m YA novel: 2-star writing quality. For once, I'd like to see something done in this genre that is both tasteful, insightful, and not oozing with characters who have single motivations that are driven by their hormones or their junk. But, you know, it's probably truer to life as a teen than fleshed out characters. Just a thought.
Profile Image for Madison Keller.
Author 40 books23 followers
October 6, 2017
This was a very classic ghost story / love story. I loved how LGBTQA+ it was. The writing is clear and easy to read and the story has definite character and plot arcs. It hits all the right notes as the main character learns about the difference between love and attraction.
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