After her father buys a cemetery and relocates their family inland from their idyllic California seaside home, 15-year-old Leigh finds not only that she’s a good fit for the after-death industry, but also that it gives her some comfort. Her older sister’s cancer just went into remission, her artistic mother would rather be back by the ocean, and Leigh’s still grieving for the best friend she recently lost. When Leigh discovers a secret in the cemetery, her grief turns to guilt. She refuses to take on any new friends, not even the cool home-schooled girl whose family provides flowers for the cemetery.

Author Jennifer Longo, who, like Leigh, sold burial plots after her father bought a cemetery, infuses her quirky debut with dark humor and a touch of magical thinking. While Leigh’s family members spin in their own set of problems, there is one person who understands her: Dario, the gravedigger who recently crossed the Mexican border. Through their tender, realistic friendship, Leigh learns the different ways Mexicans honor their departed. With help, she may find a way to let death go and life in.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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