Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake -- Jennifer Allison
Back when the first Gilda Joyce book came out, everyone raved about it. It was all: Gilda Joyce this and Gilda Joyce that, Gilda Joyce is the greatest thing EVER, I love Gilda Joyce so much that I'm getting a typewriter tattoo.
While I liked it well enough, I did feel that I was the only person out there who wasn't crazy for it. And I agree that it's weird I wasn't crazy for it. Quirky teen heroine? Check. Haunted house? Check. Big old family secrets? Check. Mysterious death? Check. I mean, heck -- that's like, the perfect recipe for a book I'd love.
But I didn't. I didn't fall in love with it. So, yeah, it took me a while to get around to reading the sequel.
And guess what? Loved it. Loved it so much that I'll very definitely be going back and re-reading the first one -- because now I'm thinking that I must have been crabby when I read the first book. (Amazing how much of a difference that can make, right?)
Anyway, this time, our intrepid Psychic Investigator finds herself accepted (with a full scholarship, thanks to the unwanted help of her mother's new boyfriend, Brad Squib) to a very exclusive Catholic girls' school. She doesn't particularly want to go to Our Lady of Sorrows -- A) she'd rather go to public school with her best friend Wendy Choy, and B) school uniforms don't really allow for the sort of self-expression she usually goes in for -- but when she discovers that there's a chance the school might be haunted... WELL. That changes things.
I admit, I've always been a sucker for school stories. But I don't think that's why I liked it so much. This time, I fell for Gilda. I loved her sass, her ability to be blunt AND witty, and her brief daydreams:
He would grab her shoulders and press his lips against hers for a brief, ecstatic moment. Then he would tear himself away, sit down at his desk, and weep with tormented frustration because of his forbidden love. They would begin a secret affair, and she would help him grade his papers. Amelia would end up with a C-minus instead of an A in his class. Eventually, Mr. Panté would be sent to prison as a result of their scandalous affair.
and I loved that she included updates about Mr. Panté in her letters to her (dead) father:
It's obvious that the Triplets have a huge crush on Mr. Panté. When he calls on them, they bat their eyelashes, chew on their pencils, and swing their crossed, Mystic-tanned legs. Then, when he turns around to write something on the blackboard, they giggle and lean over to whisper to each other, especially if there's chalk lingering on his butt from leaning against the eraser tray. Sometimes I feel sorry for teachers, because no matter what school they teach in, people are always looking at their butts.*
Actually, I pretty much loved anything Panté related. From an adult's perspective, I'd think that Gilda Joyce with a crush would be even scarier and more formidable (and unintentionally hilarious) than the usual Gilda Joyce.
Super-fun -- I've seen Gilda Joyce compared to Harriet M. Welsch, but I'd think that in a few years, young Gilda Joyce fans will really enjoy watching Veronica Mars re-runs. She's got a similar stubborn streak and the same Never-Give-Up attitude, both in regards to mysteries and general life challenges, no matter how silly. (Like finding a panty joke that Mr. Panté had never heard.) Also, she's just as mouthy. I think Sammy Keyes fans would enjoy her as well.
*This actually made me feel a little guilty about our middle school algebra class. There was much discussion about the fact that our teacher didn't have a butt -- the back of his corduroys always sagged. (Of course, if the back of his corduroys hadn't sagged, then we would've talked about that, too. Poor things, teachers. They just can't win, can they?)