When I was a kid, I used to like hanging out in graveyards (I was a weird child – what can I say?). I would spend hours walking up and down the the rows, reading the tombstones and wondering about the people buried there. Thinking about those people and the lives they’d left behind always gave me a feeling of wistfulness; how could someone be there one day and gone the next? What business had they left unfinished? Who was remembering and missing them?
These are some of the questions that Giarratano focuses on in Grunge Gods and Graveyards. The book tells the story of Lainey Bloom and Danny Obregon, two teenagers whose burgeoning romance is abruptly cut short when Danny is killed in a hit and run accident. After the accident, vicious rumors spread through the town, painting Danny as an arsonist and Lainey as an obsessed, love-crazed girl who literally chased Danny into the path of an oncoming car. When Danny’s restless spirit returns to Ash seeking closure, Lainey determines to help him get to the bottom of the events surrounding his death, hoping to clear both of their names and help Danny get the closure he needs to cross over and be at peace.
Grunge Gods and Graveyards can be classified as a mystery novel, but I was much more interested in watching the interactions between Lainey and Danny than I was in the whodunnit aspect. One of the tragedies of Danny’s untimely death is that he died just as he and Lainey had decided to give their relationship a shot. Their romance ended before it could truly begin, before they could discover what they might have been together.
After Danny’s ghost returns, he and Lainey attempt to pick up where they left off. As you can imagine, though, it’s no easy task to carry on a relationship where one party is alive and the other is deceased. For one thing, Lainey can’t confide in anyone, can’t talk about Danny (or to him when they’re in public) without people thinking she’s crazy. Danny wants more for Lainey than a life of isolation with no one but a ghost for company, but Lainey can’t imagine going on without him.
In addition to their emotional challenges, Danny and Lainey also have physical obstacles to their relationship. Danny hasn’t quite mastered his ghostly abilities, meaning that he and Lainey usually can’t touch one another. When they are able to touch, though, look out – these scenes are hot enough to make you sizzle!
Danny is easily the highlight of this novel. I loved everything about his character, with the exception of his poor taste in dating bitchy Wynter Woods prior to hooking up with Lainey. He seems so real, not just in the sense that his character is believable (though that is the case), but in the sense that he seems like a genuine, caring, laid-back guy who’s easy to be around and who will always make you smile. I also appreciate that Danny stands out from the host of other popular kings-of-high-school in YA literature. He’s a musician, not a jock, and he’s Mexican, which sets him apart from the rest of his white-bread town.
As much as I enjoyed Danny’s character, I felt there were some inconsistencies in the characterization of some of the book’s other players. For example, Lainey’s father bounces back and forth between sympathetic father and ruthless dictator, and her best friend abruptly switches from Most Understanding Friend in the World to Cold, Unforgiving Jerk in the span of a few pages.
I also was a little skeptical of the number of antagonists in the novel. Just about everyone in Lainey’s life, from her family and friends to her classmates and the entire administration of her high school, seems to be conspiring against her. I understand people being turned off by her erratic behavior, but it was a bit implausible for the entire community to be out to get her.
Still, don’t let this turn you off from the book. Giarratano’s smooth writing style and Danny and Lainey’s charmingly bittersweet love story more than make up from any rough spots. Grunge Gods and Graveyards is definitely worth a read!
A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Kimberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.
Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.
You can visit her blog at kimberlyggiarratano.com or tweet her @KGGiarratano.
Visit Other Stops on the Grunge Gods and Graveyards Tour:
7/7 ZigZag Timeline
7/10 The Caffeinated Diva
7/16 Pandora’s Books
7/17 The Story Goes…
7/18 Observation Desk
7/20 Mama’s Reading Break
7/20 The IndieView
7/21 The Story Goes…
7/22 Book Lovers Life
7/23 Wag the Fox
7/25 Manuscripts Burn