Emily Stewart discovers that she has the ability to make her ankles crack, producing a strange disembodied sounding noise, the summer she and her twin brother, Michael turn thirteen. What starts out a cool parlor trick to scare the local kids, turns into something darker when adults get involved. In 1925 many families are still reeling from the loss of loved ones from the Great War and the influenza epidemic. Spiritualism is on the rise and there are many people that would give anything to contact the other side.
“All this business about happiness,” Mary said, shaking her head. “As if you might find a box of it under the stairs and be all set.”
While the “spirit knocking” is the premise, the real meat of the story is how a small lie, that turned into a much larger one, effects Emily. Her desire to please and help people is juxtaposed with her brother’s almost maniacal desire to turn her gift into worldwide fame. Emily gains humanity and compassion for other’s grief, but pays a huge price.
The one misstep in the book is the occasional chapter that looks back at the lives Emily and Michael’s parents. While it does provide background, they material isn’t really necessary to move the story forward and instead of filling out the big picture, it leaves another story line untold and unfinished.
Overall, it provides an interesting, more psychological perspective and great study of things that can go wrong when you try to assuage the grief of others with the best of intentions, but use nefarious means to do so.
The Girl Who Would Speak For The Dead by Paul Elwork