I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder. (Grades 7-10)
I wandered down to Anderson's Bookshop today and when I saw this novel on the shelves, I had to have it. Ever since I heard the title, I've been wanting to read this one and my library seems to take forever to get new stuff (we're working on it). I just couldn't wait. And I'm glad I didn't.
"'Look around at the friends and the family
who loved Jackson Montgomery.
'You will keep the memory of him alive.'
There is one memory
that floods my brain
every five minutes.
It reminds me
and over again,
I'm the reason
Memories might keep him alive.
But they might
The book starts with a funeral. Ava was so in love with Jackson that she can't really believe that he's gone. The thing is... maybe he's not really gone... While Ava's trying to deal with her grief, her guilt over his death (which she thinks is her fault), her parents' and friends' concern for her... Jackson's coming back to see her... as a ghost. At first, Ava is thrilled that he's not really gone. She loves to feel him near her, she wishes he could say more to her. She wants to spend all her time at home in case he shows up... but eventually she starts wondering if that's really what she wants... if having a boyfriend who doesn't really exist is enough for her... And if it's not, does she has what it takes to let him go?
This book has definite fantasy elements, but it focuses on Ava's struggle to come to terms with her loss. At first, she can't move on, doesn't want to move on. Jackson's ghost is enough to satisfy her because she misses him so much. I think it's a spot-on portrayal of first love and the loss you feel when that first love is over. You'll hold onto anything, any little shard, to keep the illusion going, to believe that your love is not gone.
I loved this novel in verse. Ava's a very real character, dealing with very real feelings. Her friends and family support her, but they don't really know what to do. This is one road that Ava's got to navigate herself. I thought the ending was very satisfying and I was rooting for Ava all the way through.
(As an aside, my cat's name is Ava. Just sayin'.)
The subject matter and verse format are sure to appeal to teens. It's about a relationship, but it's strictly PG - physical intimacy is limited to kissing. And can I just say that it's got the perfect title? I wanted to pick it up based on the title alone, but I think the cover art is also perfect. My one teeny weeny complaint is that I found the scripted font for the poem titles a bit hard to read. The D's looked like W's, so I found myself wondering about the first poem title "What's 'A Way of Black' mean?" (It's actually "A Day of Black", which makes much more sense.)
Lisa Schroeder is a member of the Class of 2k8 and IHYYHM has also been reviewed by Teen Book Review (who's also posted an interview with the author) and The Page Flipper.