- Title: Watch Over Me
- Author: Nina LaCour
- Publisher & Release: Dutton Books for Young Readers, Sept 15th 2020
- Length: 272 pages
- Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for fans of contemporary!
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.
But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.
Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.
Thank you so much to the publisher via Bookish First for the finished copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!
Watch Over Me is a deeeeeply atmospheric young adult contemporary read, with a paranormal/magical realism twist involving ghosts and residual hauntings related to trauma.
Mila becomes too old to remain in foster care, and goes to teach on a farm in northern California where the owners have fostered 40+ children. The interns cook, clean, teach, tend to the farm and children, and everyone lives in a structured environment and seem like one big amazing family.
Then there are the ghosts. Ghosts of children playing in the yard. A dancing ghost that plays the piano. A ghost that re-enacts Mila’s past traumas?
The less I think about the ghost element, the more I enjoy the book. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me to bring residual hauntings to actual life, but I understand it in a symbolic sense. The theme of residual hauntings due to trauma is deep and difficult and handled so well by LaCour, and these resilient kids who have been through so much. There is a literal but symbolic gesture of embracing the lost and detached part of oneself that still deserves love and belonging and healing.
I loved the little kids, especially Lee, the farm family, and the whole found family theme in general. The farm atmosphere was so real that I always felt like I was walking in the chilly air next to the characters, or joining them at dinner or in the family room.
It’s a shorter and quick book that kept me rapt the entire time, and if I had more time it could have easily been read in a day. A similar book that I read this year, and the review is here somewhere, was Echoes Between Us by Katie McCarty.
Content for gas lighting, housefires, parental abandonment, child abuse, sex overheard and then imagined in no explicit detail, two naked girls in a bath tub with nothing sexual occurring, one usage of the word f**k, near drowning, personal injury, ghosts, and pain related to ghostly encounters