This is why I will read anything Chris Barzak writes: because he creates magical worlds full of yearning and wonder and wounded people who know how to love, and shows us that we live there too.
Also, he's hella cute, and his karaoke technique is unstoppable.
Adam McCormick is a shy teenager, quietly existing on the fringes of his high school and his raucous working class family. Yet when the body of another student, Jamie Marks, is found murdered and buried by the railroad, Adam is moved by a sense of solidarity to visit the site of Jamie's lonely grave. Impulsively, Adam climbs into the grave and begins an intimate friendship with the ghost of the murdered boy.
This is a poignant and lyrical rites-of-passage novel, written with a gentle touch. Adam believes in loyalty, in love, and in compassion, but the world around him hardly seems to value such emotions. Adam's struggle for authenticity presents him with two possible directions: remain a boy and follow the ghost of Jamie Marks into oblivion, or brave the harder path toward adult life with all its complexities.
Barzak deftly combines the supernatural elements of the plot with the ambiguous realities of a small town: the pathos of his fractured working class family, the girlfriend who introduces him to sex and then betrays him, and even the ghosts: mild mannered like Jamie, or violent and spiteful like Frances, a girl who murdered her abusive father. Adam must learn how to negotiate such complicated unions without losing himself.
I can't wait to get my copy. Barzak enthusiasts can read more about the man and myth over at The Mumpsimus, currently celebrating Barzak Day.