Ruined: A Novel
by Paula Morris
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Beth Slater
Point Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545042154
Date: 01 August 2009 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Imagine a New York City teenager being sent to live in New Orleans, having approximately a week's notice. Oh, and she's being sent to live with an "aunt" – read lifetime friend of the family. Rebecca Brown didn't have to imagine – she was going to have to live it. Her mother was dead, long ago when she was a baby. Her father and she happily made their way in New York City, until now when her father was assigned work in China, and felt that it was too long a time period for Rebecca to be on her own. Now she was miserable, heading to an entirely different world, alone, for a full school year.
In NYC, Rebecca is used to using mass transit, but in New Orleans her aunt's jalopy got them around when needed, and her house seemed to match the car. Although it is in the Garden District, it is one of the oldest houses, and quite unkempt and next to a local cemetery. Rebecca is taking in the details of everything around her, and asking Aurelia, Aunt Claudia's daughter, questions about school and life in New Orleans. Unable to keep from comparing things from her life in NYC, Rebecca is able to recognize the type of people in her school in New Orleans as she was familiar with in New York.
In defiance of the girls' southern debutante snobbery, Rebbecca lies about her history and tells them that her parents were house service workers who met in service, but that her mother was dead. She was sure that would scare away most of the girls to whom social status was important. She had met one friend that was nice, but she had a difficult time finding her. Rebecca had defied Aunt Claudia's rule of staying out of the cemetery and followed a group of kids from school in one night when they sneaked in. But when she is almost caught, she runs out, and gets lost. She trips and sees another girl – and asks her how to get out, and is helped. Her name is Lisette, and Rebecca is about to find out that her closest friend in New Orleans is a 155 year old ghost.
Rebecca learns much about New Orleans history from Lisette, although recent history is spotty for her – and she also begins to form questions about her own history which, surprisingly, Lisette also knows the answers. What are the dark secrets beyond the shadows, and who does she trust to ask?
This is an intriguing YA paranormal featuring post-Katrina New Orleans during the Mardis Gras season. It is extremely interesting to see it from the perspective of someone who has no interest in the subject. I would give it a try, especially if you love woo-woo, but I wouldn't expect a series from it.