Lucy Fisher is having the worst week of her life. Her dream vacation in Hawaii, which cost her pretty much everything she had, was a huge disappointment, and when she arrives home she finds herself locked out of the house she shares with her fiancé, all of her possessions strewn about the lawn. As if that’s not enough, she’s falsely accused of trying to steal money from her employer and consequently loses her job. That’s when things really start to go downhill. Lucy goes to stay with her sister, hoping for a chance to get back on her feet, but on her way to the unemployment office, Lucy is unceremoniously flattened by a bus. Talk about a killer week.
In an entertaining twist on the chick-lit formula, Laurie Notaro’s latest novel, Spooky Little Girl, takes its heroine to Ghost School. If she succeeds in the mission assigned to her during school, she can move on to the next phase of after-death, which Notaro calls the State. The afterlife presented here is a kind of yuppie suburbanite’s idea of heaven, complete with catalogues of costumes the ghosts can wear to all their hauntings; there’s probably a Starbucks on every corner, too. This is where the real story begins, in which Lucy attempts to figure out why her fiancé turned her out of her home and, secondarily, why no one showed up at her funeral.
Armed with her new haunting skills, Lucy returns as a ghost to her former home, where no one, oddly, seems to know what happened to Lucy—they all believe she’s just run off, which wouldn’t be uncharacteristic, it seems. By learning how (and why) to haunt the living, the ghost of Lucy Fisher begins to understand who she was and how her own behavior might have affected others’ perceptions of her while she was still alive. Spooky Little Girl isn’t terribly profound, but it’s great fun to spend a couple of hours watching Lucy learn to live death to its fullest.
Becky Ohlsen is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon.