Book Review of Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland

It is 1922 in Georgia. Ophelia and her mother leave their small house in the countryside after a group of white men killed Ophie’s father and burned their house. Ophie saw her first ghost—her father—that same night. They move to Pittsburgh with old Aunt Rose and some mean cousins and find jobs as maids at Daffodil Manor, a haunted mansion owned by the Caruthers family. Ophie’s main task is serving and attending to all of Mrs. Caruthers’ needs. Mrs. Caruthers is a detestable old lady who cannot even call Ophie by her proper name. Ophie’s highlight is her friendship with a cheerful and beautiful ghost named Clara. But something terrible happened to Clara. And Ophie is determined to solve the mystery and help her friend.

Ophie’s Ghosts is New York Times bestselling author Justina Ireland’s first middle-grade novel. It tackles prejudice, racism, and violence against African Americans during the 1920s, social themes still relevant today. Ireland mixed historical fiction, mystery, and ghosts to create a touching and suspenseful story about injustice and helping others move on. Light skinned or passing light is an important subtheme in the story. Not many stories portray the experiences of African Americans with light skin tones. Also, Ireland‘s writing is elegant, and this novel is a must-read. It will probably shine during the awards season.

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