The Secret Life of Souls

Eleven-year-old Delia Cross is on the cusp of fame; with the help of her slightly creepy agent, Roman, and her overly ambitious mother, Pat, she's about to land her first sitcom role. While Delia and Pat are off at auditions and rehearsals, Bart, the father, fritters away the family's money on gadgets and toys (and alcohol), and Robbie, Delia's twin, lurks in his room, mostly ignored in his utter normalness. The family also includes a dog, Caity, with whom Delia shares a special relationship. When tragedy strikes, ruining the girl's chances of sitcom stardom and pushing the family toward financial ruin, it is Caity who comes to Delia's aid--as savior, guardian and friend.

The Secret Life of Souls skirts cliché in the beginning: the parents blinded by their greed and ambition; the overshadowed sibling; the special relationship of a girl and her dog. Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee's female characters can feel trite at times, especially as Pat Cross drifts thoughtlessly between selfish ambition and motherly love. Tolstoy wrote that all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, and the Cross family is no exception. As their drama unfolds, The Secret Life of Souls moves beyond cliché and into the distinctive, especially in the unusual--and at times eerie--connection between Delia and Caity. Ketchum and McKee (I'm Not Sam) have imbued every page of their novel with a sense of suspense that will keep readers on their toes from start to finish. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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