Published by Simon & Schuster Books on August 27th 2013
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Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother left, her neglectful father -- the maestro of a failing orchestra -- has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help -- if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.
One of my most anticipated summer reads, The Year of Shadows sounded like the perfect mix with an orchestra hall filled with ghosts and a troubled, yet brave girl who would help them. Olivia is not the happiest little girl and finds that her life is about to become more miserable. Her father is an orchestra director and loves the orchestra more than her mother, who left and her, who is now forced to live at the hall with her grandmother and father. Things are not going well for the orchestra and looks like the hall will soon close, leaving Olivia possibly homeless.
The anger in Olivia from the beginning really makes you feel for her situation and hope that she finds some even footing with her family. When she starts to see her first ghosts, she is not sure what to do, especially since Perfect Henry, who will not drop the fact they saw ghosts together. At first she pretends that she did not see what he did, but he is persistent and perfect, along with trying to be her friend. Olivia is the quiet and always drawing at school, sitting alone and does not like the certain attention, especially since she suspects he told everyone about her life problems.
When the ghosts tell her that she can help them move to the other side, she decides that she will do her best to help them. But where there are ghosts, there are also shades – ghosts that cannot move on and can move objects and even collapse ceilings. With the shades around, she must hurry to free the ghosts before the orchestra hall comes crumbling around them and hurts those she loves.
I really loved the mix of paranormal with this story about a girl who needs to heal from her mother leaving and her father seeming not to care about her at all. I could not put down this book for long because I cared for Olivia so much and wanted to see where her adventures would take her. Henry and Joan are her two somewhat friends that try their best to help her, even if she tends to push them away.
Final Verdict: The Year of Shadows is first a story of a girl with grief and anger balled up inside of her and second, a paranormal story about the ghosts that she wants to help.