Friday, November 4, 2022

Today's read... House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur

 For some reason, I thought today's read was a whole-hearted contemporary read, exploring the pains and trials of immigration, loss, and family issues. Silly me because I must have skimmed over the part in the blurb about ghostly apparitions...or maybe, I thought it was metaphorically meant. In any case, today's read packed surprises in many, many ways. So, get ready and keep a look out because this one launches... ohhh.... hmmmm.... on November 29th!

by Deeba Zargarpur
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Young Adult Paranormal
320 pages

NOVEMBER 29th!!!

Taking inspiration from the author's own Afghan-Uzbek heritage, this contemporary YA debut is a breathtaking journey into the grief that lingers through generations of immigrant families, and what it means to confront the ghosts of your past.

Struggling to deal with the pain of her parents’ impending divorce, fifteen-year-old Sara is facing a world of unknowns and uncertainties. Unfortunately, the one person she could always lean on when things got hard, her beloved Bibi Jan, has become a mere echo of the grandmother she once was. And so Sara retreats into the family business, hoping a summer working on her mom’s latest home renovation project will provide a distraction from her fracturing world.

But the house holds more than plaster and stone. It holds secrets that have her clinging desperately to the memories of her old life. Secrets that only her Bibi Jan could have untangled. Secrets Sara is powerless to ignore as the dark truths of her family’s history rise in ghostly apparitions -- and with it, the realization that as much as she wants to hold onto her old life, nothing will ever be the same.

Told in lush, sweeping prose, this story of secrets, summer, and family sacrifice will chill you to the bone as the house that wraps Sara in warmth of her past becomes the one thing she cannot escape…



Family secrets, loads of guilt, the slow loss of a loved one, ghosts, and finding one's place in the world mix in the most wondrous ways to create a gripping read...the kind that will also require a tissue box nearby. 

Sara is in a bad spot in life. Her grandmother is slowly drifting away mentally thanks to dementia, her parents are caught in a divorce, and the entire world seems to be slipping out from under her. To help clear her head and grab some air, she decides to help her mother renovate a house for flipping. But this house isn't what it seems. Secrets swirl like foggy mist as a haunting past knocks at every turn...and nobody seems to be able to or want to help.

This book is beautifully haunting. While rooting in Sara's realistic problems with her grandmother and parents, it lets the secrets slowly unfold. The author compares writing this to a fever dream, and the comparison is actually not bad. It carries so much uncertainty and lack of clarity that many moments and scenes are fogged, at best. Purposely so. Sara is dealing with an unknown, and nobody seems to remember anything about it. The clues she gets and the ghosts she deals with aren't exactly clear and crisp, either. Plus, there's her own emotions battling to stay afloat. The lack of clarity incorporates into the writing, enough to carry a dream-like haze...and it's just right.

The mix of harder issues and paranormal secrets flows very well. Sara has to deal with the mental loss of her grandmother, which touches upon the harsh reality of dementia. Then, the divorce weaves another message as Sara struggles to come to terms with the change, while learning to work through the self-inflicted guilt she feels at the situation. It's also nicely handled and will touch home with readers. While these very emotional aspects already create a good base for the read (and these do touch the heart), there's a spooky, paranormal flair, which slides in gently and in just the right way to haunt without overpowering the tale into a complete paranormal direction. There are some unclarities by the end of the read (a hole or two which isn't explained), but in general, it wraps up very well and leaves a lingering warmth of thought.

I was surprisingly drawn into this one (I wasn't sure it'd be my thing) and found it spooky and full of heart.

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