Wednesday, September 12, 2012

REVIEW: Giving Up the Ghost by Eric Nuzum

Title: Giving Up the Ghost
Author: Eric Nuzum
Genre: Adult Memoir
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: August 7/2012
Acquired: Egalley request from NetGalley
Goodreads: ADD
Purchase: Amazon/Indigo/Book Depository

Eric Nuzum is afraid of the supernatural, and for good reason: As a high school oddball in Canton, Ohio, during the early 1980s, he became convinced that he was being haunted by the ghost of a little girl in a blue dress who lived in his parents’ attic. It began as a weird premonition during his dreams, something that his quickly diminishing circle of friends chalked up as a way to get attention. It ended with Eric in a mental ward, having apparently destroyed his life before it truly began. The only thing that kept him from the brink: his friendship with a girl named Laura, a classmate who was equal parts devoted friend and enigmatic crush. With the kind of strange connection you can only forge when you’re young, Laura walked Eric back to “normal”—only to become a ghost herself in a tragic twist of fate.

Years later, a fully functioning member of society with a great job and family, Eric still can’t stand to have any shut doors in his house for fear of what’s on the other side. In order to finally confront his phobia, he enlists some friends on a journey to America’s most haunted places. But deep down he knows it’s only when he digs up the ghosts of his past, especially Laura, that he’ll find the peace he’s looking for.

When I initially read the synopsis for Giving Up the Ghost, I was under the impression that it was a work of fiction, and needless to say, I was disappointed when I realized that it was not. I had yet to read a "scary" novel, and I somehow thought this might be it.

With that said, as I actually started reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found there. Nuzum recounts his life, alternating from past to present, eventually settling on the present. I had a few laugh-out-loud moments, and got my fill of scary when he first described his dream of a little girl in a blue dress-the same little girl, and dream, that turned out to be the cause and affect of moments surrounding and within his life, both mentally and emotionally.

As much as I hoped this would be a ghost story, sadly, it wasn't..well, it kind of was, not really. Though I still really enjoyed Eric's ability to tell a story-his story. His writing flowed well, and many times I found myself right there beside him. I have grown so accustomed to fiction, that it was sometimes difficult to remind myself that what he was writing about real life, that he really did experience the horrible losses that he did, that his facts were exactly that: facts. If all memoirs could be written in this manner, I would be reading a lot more of that genre.

However, the story still remained a little anti-climatic for me, and what I was expecting in the end just seemed to fall flat. Which isn't a bad thing-like I said, I'm a fiction reader to my core, I've been horribly spoiled with insanely impossible endings, it's just what I've come to know and expect.

The quote that pretty much stopped my breathing for a few seconds was this one:

"Everyone tells me that the stuff I like will never amount to anything.' I Said. 'So if you aren't interested in anything else, what is the point of trying? So you can end up sitting in an office and wearing a tie- and being miserable until you die-is that what I'm supposed to do with my life to make everyone happy? That doesn't sound like much fun. It's easier to deal with other people's disappointment than to deal with your own."

BOOM! Instant 'I can SO relate' moment.

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