"The books he;d read and loved seemed to jump out at him, as if waiting for him. The Teddy Bear Habit, Henry and Ribsy, The Chocolate War, M.C. Higgins The Great, Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, Homer Price. Oh, Something Wicked This Way Comes - funny to find that one now. On and on. Every book he recognized opened up the world of that book to him. These weren't stacks of paper bound together with glue or string - they weren't items or products. Every book was an entire universe." (26)
Travis and his family have moved to a new housing development now that his parents have better jobs and are making more money. They also don't visit the public library anymore, despite spending every Saturday there for years. One day Travis decides to go back and visit the library- a place he discovers he has a great love for. When he finds out that the library may be closing due to a lack of money, Travis decides to step up and try and help save the library. Along the way, he continues his love affair with books, especially John Steinbeck's work. Steinbeck's home was in Salinas, and the public library is named after him as well. So, when book characters start appearing in Travis' life, he investigates a little bit further.
Buzbee states throughout the book the importance of reading and the influence it has:
"That night in his bedroom, in the attic of a perfectly ordinary home, Oster cracked open The Grapes of Wrath and read the first sentence: To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth."
"It's hard to say how a quiet moment like that can have so much impact on one's life, Oster said, the silent reading of a few bits of prose. But such moments- at least Oster liked to believe - can change your entire life. You just have to be ready." (150).
I wish I had read more of Steinbeck prior to reading Steinbeck's Ghost, and it is obvious the author is well-versed on Steinbeck and other childrens literature.
I absolutely loved this book - a bit of suspense, a bit of fantasy, and a lot about the importance of reading and libraries. It seems like the well-known books are seen on numerous blogs, and this book is one I have never heard of, flying under the radar, yet deserving of some publicity. I'm already looking forward to Buzbee's next book, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, due out in October.