One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.
Annie Browne moves to a new town. Before she can make friends with the other girls, an unpopular girl chooses her for a best friend. She destroys her doll, is hateful to Annie, and won’t let her be friends with anyone else. When Elsie becomes sick, Annie is able to befriend the other girls at last. Now, she is pitted against Elsie and her new friends.
The influenza is killing off thousands of people and the school closes because of it. Annie and her friends tease Elsie and steal her flu mask. Days later, Elsie comes down with the flu and dies. Annie and her friends are sled-riding in the cemetery when she hits a stone angel. Voices scatter in her heads and she becomes haunted by Elsie.
When Elsie torments her and vows to make her friends pay for what they did to her, Annie becomes the outsider Elsie was. Elsie makes her do and say things she doesn’t want to do. When she is sent to a rest home, Annie fears she will be hospitalized forever unless she rids herself of Elsie.
I LOVED this book! This author is one of my favorites in this genre and MG. She has such a haunting, authentic feel to her stories and you can’t help but root for her characters despite the mistakes they make. This is for a grade level of nine to fourteen. The characters are sharp, the plot suspenseful, and you’re torn between who to root for. Mary Downing Hahn has become a MUST-read for me. I aspire to tell stories like her.