A Ghost in My Suitcase Book Review


A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE Winner of the 2009 Aurealis Award Best Children’s Novel

Puffin Books (a subsidiary of Penguin). Australian, Junior, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $16.95

Guest Reviewer – Jo Burnell

When twelve-year-old Celeste travels to China to visit her grandmother, she carries her mother’s ashes. A feeling of expectation hovers. Is the ghost in the title of this story Celeste’s mother? Each turn of the page gives new information, but leaves me wanting to find out more. Nothing is as it seems, not even the fish in the pond.

Por Por, Celeste’s grandmother, seems like any other nice old lady. Ting Ting, a girl about Celeste’s age lives with Por Por, but their relationship is unusual. Ting Ting wanders the busy streets of Shanghai alone and travels long distances without support.

Ting Ting and Por Por’s lives are entwined with Celeste’s in ways none of them fully understand. Por Por’s past holds tragic secrets that have more to do with ghosts than anyone expects. Can terrible wrongs be made right? Ting Ting seems determined to make Celeste feel unwelcome, but that will have to change. Ting Ting and Celeste must work together if the three are to survive. There is no other way.

Gabrielle Wang lets me taste Por Por’s delicate homemade dishes, and feel the mist on a poorly lit Shanghai street. I hear the thumps and bangs of unseen foes, and delight at open umbrellas in the old bus when it rains. Gently flowing, easy-to-read prose sets me floating down the river in a water taxi, yet the pulse beats faster as dangers are revealed.

My questions are answered, but I’m not sure I want to read on. I can’t hide behind Por Por when things get complicated. What will happen if Por Por’s powers aren’t enough? Can Celeste save the day with her newly found gifts? You’ll have to read this treasure yourself if you want to find out.

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