Title: Through Her Eyes
Author: Jennifer Archer
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery/Thriller
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
ISBN-10: 0061834580 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0061834585 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed by: Macie
Every ghost has a story to tell.
The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it’s the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.
Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry’s dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever
Quick and Dirty: Interesting concept, but still overuses some plot and character stereotypes.
Opening Sentence: I died on a bitter, cold night.
The protagonist, Tansy, immediately typecasts herself as an outcast after moving from California and avoids the other kids and townspeople in the small Texas town of Cedar Canyon. Tansy is the daughter of a writer who moves her family around so often that Tansy feels sequestered from everyone, and feels like she is always the “weird new girl.” Her style, which consists of her grandfather’s collection of old hats, sticks out in the boondocks of Texas. Her grandfather has to be taken care of like a child because he has recently become infirm.
For the most part, Tansy is cynical of her new life, and is a bit of a brat. I know from experience how difficult it is to move and change schools often, but she decides before she arrives that she will not fit in and puts out no effort to be a polite person. Tansy treats others around her with disdain because they have different priorities than her, may not be as cultured as she is, and then complains about loneliness. I don’t personally love the character of Tansy, but maybe her emotional state is what helped her reach out to the ghost of Henry.
Henry lived an unhappy life that was cut short by plummeting from a cliff. Tansy discovers some of Henry’s personal items, and is somehow able to witness the last few days of his tortured life. She’s transported to a monochromatic version of Cedar Canyon that Henry and her grandfather lived in. Over the course of the book, Tansy’s experience of what is reality and what is an observance of the past starts to blend as she witnesses things that do not belong. At this point the reader starts to question if Tansy is really seeing something, or if she should be diagnosed by a psychologist. We know how the rest of society would see her experiences, and secretly hope that she really is experiencing the past and a ghost. Not only is Tansy learning more about her grandfather when he was her age, but she is also uncovering a mystery that has been in the town for ages.
The story itself is what kept me reading this book. I wanted to find out what happened to Tansy, and what was going on between Henry and her grandfather all those years ago. The one thing I wasn’t crazy for was the characterization. Tansy seems to try a little too hard to be different and indifferent. Her only friend in town, Bethyl Ann, is true to herself, but doesn’t seem like a real person. I might just have a bit of an aversion because of the name, but I think that was intended. The popular mean girls of the school also seem kind of flat. The one girl who has some depth to her is Alison, and only because of her troubled past that she seems to hide so well. I did enjoy reading about her character development over the course of the novel.
Tansy’s love interest, Tate, does have an interesting transformation over the course of the book, but he also seemed kind of staged or stereotyped. He was the star football player who wanted nothing more than to be artistic in his own way, and just so happens to fall for the new girl who seems so different than the others. I’m not saying it never happens, but I felt that the character was still a little flat.
Overall, the book ends on a good note and all of the questions are answered, which is always nice for a standalone novel. As for her debut teen novel, Jennifer Archer presents an interesting take on ghost stories and the paranormal even if her characters are not as realistic as I would prefer. I did enjoy the novel on some level, but it lacked depth.
A waitress leads us to a booth on the far side of the room. Everyone in the café seems to know everyone else. They call out to one another as we weave around them. Hey, Bud, hey, Sarah. Billy, how’s work? We missed you in church on Sunday. How are the kiddos? A lot of talk. A lot of laughter. I’m pretty sure we’ll soon be the topic of conversation, since most of them look at us as if we just flew in from outer space. I could be imagining this, but I doubt it. We don’t exactly fit in. Papa Dan wears his beret slanted to tone side and the lenses of his round, tortoiseshell glasses are so thick that his eyes look like bulging green grapes. Mom wears a pink satin blouse with a mandarin collar, baggy black pants, and pink ballet slippers. Then there’s me; I like hats, my grandfather’s mostly. He has a collection—berets, fedoras, old-fashion newsboy caps. Today I’m wearing a gray felt fedora with a black satin band. The brim hides my eyes. A bonus.
I was right when I guessed the Longhorn Café wouldn’t have a vegetarian menu. At first I think that is no dinner for me, since I don’t eat meat. But the waitress points out a salad bar, so I walk over to check it out. The containers are filled with more pasta, canned peas, and mayo-coated salads than fresh vegetables, but it’s better than nothing. I pick up an empty plate and put some carrot and celery sticks on it.
FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Through Her Eyes. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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