Set in North Carolina, The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver is a book about coping with grief. It confirms that healing is a complicated process different for everyone.

When Liam Cooper’s brother, Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Liam loses the normal in his universe.  The sixteen-year-old, non-binary musician can find no life outside the music he makes with the aid of GarageBand software. Even his friends Joel and Vanessa consider him too morose. Feeling like he doesn’t belong anywhere and trying to navigate the grieving process alone, his anger and depression consume him.

Initially, Liam believes that he will move through the stages of grief until gradually the sadness and desperation will slip away. But “grief is a complicated, ugly, and messy thing” that makes him do “complicated, ugly, and messy things” (122).

As Liam tries to find the words to convey the confusion and sadness running through his mind, he ultimately has to accept that he needs more than music therapy. In his discovery for answers, Liam turns to Ethan’s best friend and fellow baseball player, Marcus. What he discovers both consoles and shocks him.

Marcus, also a lover of words, reads and writes poetry.  He tells Liam: “Sometimes poetry is more about the feeling the words give you, the emotion, the placement, and not necessarily the words themselves” (225).

With the eventual help of a therapist, Liam learns “to live alongside the pain, alongside the missing part of [his] life that he will never get back” (316).

  • Posted by Donna

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