The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown
Published: November 5, 2019
Summary from Goodreads:
“Do you know what it feels like to be forgotten?”
On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel – only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her.
Immediately, strange things start to happen to Iris: She begins having vivid nightmares. She wakes up to find her bedroom window wide open, letting in the snow. She thinks she sees the shadow of a girl lurking in the woods. And she feels the pull of the abandoned grave, calling her back to the clearing…
Obsessed with figuring out what’s going on, Iris and Daniel start to research the area for a school project. They discover that Avery’s grave is actually part of a neglected and forgotten Black cemetery, dating back to a time when White and Black people were kept separate in life – and in death. As Iris and Daniel learn more about their town’s past, they become determined to restore Avery’s grave and finally have proper respect paid to Avery and the others buried there.
But they have awakened a jealous and demanding ghost, one that’s not satisfied with their plans for getting recognition. One that is searching for a best friend forever – no matter what the cost.
This was such a wonderful, spooky story. There were some parts that were pretty scary, but nothing too bad. The story just flowed so nicely together between the scary supernatural stuff and the all too real issues of segregation.
The book is told from two points of view, with Iris telling most of it. I really liked Iris. She was spunky and thoughtful. She often felt forgotten in her family, because her four year old sister appears to get more attention from her parents. I think her parents try, and are supportive of her as well. Iris also feels forgotten at school, and is has trouble with some of the other students and faculty not supporting her step team. I really liked how, once all of the supernatural stuff starts to happen she finds a way to get other students involved in taking care of the graveyard and therefore part of the problem. Her relationship with her younger sister was realistic and it was easy to relate to her resentment of the attention her sister got from her parents. But you could also see the love, especially when Vashti disappears and Iris has to risk a lot to save her.
Daniel also tells part of the story. He is a great friend, even though he finds it hard at times to follow Iris. He is still grieving for his father who had recently passed away. Daniel finds it hard to do the things that used to bring him joy. But when Iris needs him he is there, helping her figure out what is going on and even rescuing her at one point from the ghost. Daniel’s grandmother lives with him and his mom, and she is an important part of the story. She is the one to explain about ghosts and other superstitions to the children.
The story is very well done. It is fast paced with lots of action and suspense. I loved how the ghost story was tied into segregation, specifically with the graveyards being segregated and then forgotten as families moved away. Avery was a pretty scary ghost and powerful too. She really wanted to have a friend and not to be forgotten. As an adult, I figured out the issue with why she wasn’t at rest pretty quickly, but not sure kids will be as quick with the connect between her and Daniel’s grandmother.
Overall a very well done, modern ghost story with some nice historical touches. My compliments go out to the cover designer as well. It captures the tone of the book perfectly. I am looking forward to seeing more by this author.