‘Ordinary Ghosts’ by Eireann Corrigan

I recently read Ordinary Ghosts by Eireann Corrigan and am now googling her other books, because Ordinary Ghosts really blew me away.

The story isn’t really heavy on the plot, but the character’s voice carried me through the entire story, and not once did I tire of it. It’s about a boy Emil Simon, whose star brother Ethan ran away after the death of their mother. Emil has always looked up to his brother and the story now chronicles the days after his brother’s departure and his mother’s death. With half of the family left, Emil and his father are trying their best not to tailspin. But normalcy is elusive, and the tension between Emil and his father is almost palpable, as they navigate their way through life.
Emil finds that Ethan left him the key to Ainsley Academy, the all-boy prep school they study in. As per Ainsley tradition, the key-bearer has to lay the greatest prank of all time on the school, in secrecy.

Emil’s nighttime forays in the school compounds leads him to a girl (the daughter of his ex-teacher) whome he falls in love with, and eventually accompanies him on the search for his brother.

Ordinary Ghosts is about a boy coming of age in his own messy way, the way we all do, and I suppose that’s what makes the narrator so compelling. He’s funny, he’s a wuss, he gets big-headed and insecure, and he’s perfectly flawed. He’s human, and I see a lot of myself in Emil, even though he’s a boy. I think Corrigan really grasped his voice well, and her effort to make sure his voice stays consistent throughout the story is evident. The story flows in a Salinger-esque way, and I was pretty sorry when I got to the end, just like I had been when I’d reached the end of The Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden Caulfield, Emil Simon is an anti-hero you’d cheer for.
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