Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Texas Gothic

Clement-Moore, Rosemary. Texas Gothic. New York: Delacorte Press - Random House Children's Books, 2011. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

When Amy agreed to ranch-sit for her aunt, she envisioned a quiet, normal summer relaxing and feeding the goats. Unfortunately, her sister Phin, along with all of Phin's half-magic half-physics experiments, are also spending the summer at Aunt Hyacinth's ranch. And the goats climb trees. Amy has been balancing her normal self and her white magic family her whole life, so she's not going to let Phin and some misbehaved goats ruin her summer. The ghost that's taken a liking to her from the next ranch over, on the other hand...

There are two things that Clement-Moore does fantabulously: community and swoony guys. The ranch town in which Amy and Phin are spending their summer is great. It's not the setting, really, that's great; it's the people in it. They make this small town believable. There's the crazy grandad, the close-minded town folk, the local pothead, the nerdy college students, the local "royal" family, and the brooding son of those royals. We don't get to know all of these characters well; this is not a crowded book. And yet, these are not stock characters. Altogether, they are the town. They give the town a feel and a history. They make it a place. The town bar and the community picnics are just where they hang out.

And then there's the guy. Le sigh. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I have a weakness for rugged folk who wear cowboy hats unironically. But even if that's not your thing, this guy is sooo great. Ben McCulloch, literally the guy next door, is so swoony and angsty and responsible and gentlemanly. I fell for him, and hard, long before Amy figured out why Ben made her feel both frustrated and fluttery at the same time. Mark, one of those nerdy college students, isn't so bad either. His sweet and awkward flirting with Phin is so cute! The best part about both of them, though, is that they are both completely devoid of cheese. There is no heavy-handed romance talk or gazing into one another's eyes.

So the guys and the cast of characters are what made Texas Gothic great for me. Amy and Phin's relationship, the complicated ghost story, the small town rumors and legends, and the ranching drama were all added perks for me. These aspects of the story were just as strong as the ones I loved, and they might be what makes this a great book for you.

Book source: Philly Free Library

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