Leigh Kramer's Reviews > The Ghosts We Keep

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, grief-and-loss, made-me-cry, mental-health, nonbinary, queer, ya, lgbtqia

A fantastic YA grief novel, The Ghosts we Keep follows a nonbinary teen after the hit-and-run death of his brother. The book is structured with scenes from Before and After as we come to understand just what and who Liam has lost. Not only are they grappling with what an Ethan-less life means, their two best friends have pulled back at a time when he needs them most. How true to life to have to deal with more than one messy loss at once. My heart really went out to Liam.

I used to counsel grieving teens as part of my work as a hospice social worker and this struck me as a very accurate depiction of teen grief. Liam doesn’t always behave the best, nor is he honest about how he’s doing with the people who care, including his parents. His parents make a point of saying they’re figuring it out as they go, that there’s no roadmap for this and they might make mistakes. (I’m closer to Liam’s parents’ age so I was definitely wincing over how he treated them, whereas I’ve seen reviews from people closer to Liam’s age who thinks they were unfair. I thought they did a pretty good job.) I liked that Liam and Ethan had a complicated sibling relationship so the book offered a more even-handed portrayal of what Ethan was like—there is no placing the dead on a pedestal here. Liam was pretty self-absorbed and oblivious, somewhat understandably, but I was mystified that they didn’t figure out a big secret more quickly. As much as a I enjoy a good love story, I’m glad there wasn’t a romantic subplot. In this case, the focus really needed to be on bereavement and Liam was not in a place for anything more than finding new friends. It was such a moving read and I look forward to whatever Deaver does next.

Character notes: Liam is a queer nonbinary (he/they) HS senior and musician. This is set in Kinston, NC.

Content notes: off-page death of brother (hit and run), mention of postmortem body, panic attack, suicidal ideation and self-harm (toward end of book), diagnosis of PTSD with depression and anxiety, misgendering, discussions of gender dysphoria, vomit, hard of hearing secondary character, cigarettes (secondary characters), bierasure (MC assumes secondary characters aren’t “gay” because they’re said to date girls; this isn’t really countered), gendered insults, Author’s Note discusses death of father, brief mentions of transphobia, reference to past underage drinking
2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Ghosts We Keep.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

March 31, 2021 – Shelved
March 31, 2021 – Shelved as: to-read
September 20, 2021 – Started Reading
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: favorites
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: grief-and-loss
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: made-me-cry
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: mental-health
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: nonbinary
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: queer
September 23, 2021 – Shelved as: ya
September 23, 2021 – Finished Reading
September 25, 2021 – Shelved as: lgbtqia

No comments have been added yet.