Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator

by Jennifer Allison

Gilda is a girl with many talents and interests. After her father dies of cancer, Gilda decides to become a psychic so she can have one last conversation with him. One of her other great loves (after reading Harriet the Spy) is investigating others. Oh, and she's a budding novelist as well. Gilda's best friend is headed to band camp for the entire summer, and Gilda isn't particularly interested in sticking around the house by herself, so she manages to get herself invited to her mother's cousin's house in San Francisco. After she arrives, Gilda is thrilled to learn the house might be haunted, and sets out to meet a ghost and possibly solve a mystery.

When I tried explaining this book to my husband, he said "oh, like Psych," which is one of the few television shows we actually watch on a regular basis (or at least did when we had cable). And, the description does make it sound like Psych, but it isn't really anything at all like Psych. Gilda wants to be psychic and is jealous of people who can actually see ghosts, etc. She even has a manual that she uses to train herself to be psychic. Gilda is also a very poor investigator. Her methods are more along the lines of follow a wild idea until you can go no further and start over, than look for clues and come up with theories from there. Her cousin even mentions something along those lines, though I can't seem to find the quote.

Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this story quite a bit. Gilda is hilarious, though she can be a bit over the top and somewhat rude from time to time. She seems like some sort of cross between an outspoken 9 or 10 year old and a mature teenager. Both sides shine through at various parts of the story.

My favorite part of the book is when Gilda is writing something. Whether it's a letter to her father, a proposed novel, or a suggestion to the obituary writer, her writing is fabulous. I also love her descriptions of her disguises - they are totally outrageous, and I wish I could see her in any of them.

And, just as an aside: there is some pretty strong language, which I felt was kind of out of character for Gilda, and quite a bit of talk of suicide (though I wouldn't say that it is glorified or anything) in this book.

3.5 out of 5 stars. I will definately be looking for the sequel Gilda Joyce and the Ladies of the Lake at my library.

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