Sometimes the great books slide past the very readers who will adore them. That is the case with Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Grafitti – I hadn’t even heard of it until I saw it on NetGalley. I don’t know where all the deserving buzz is about this surprising read, but if you loved Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars, grab this book right now. It is free if you have KindleUnlimited, but the $4.99 is well worth it if you don’t.
Some endings are inevitable, but so are some stories.
Cora Matthews, the principal’s gloomy goth daughter, is not exactly popular Duke Meyer’s type. Still, Duke finds himself inexplicably drawn to her dark eyes and mysterious manner. She makes it clear she doesn’t return his admiration, but when a burst appendix lands Duke in the hospital, he and Cora will be forced to come together by the most unlikely intermediary: her eight-year-old brother, Jaime.
Duke learns Jaime has brain cancer and little chance of long-term survival. He admires the kid’s plucky positivity and wild imagination and offers to write a story about Jaime’s make-believe superheroes. So begins an epic tale—that of Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti—and a deep friendship between Duke and Jaime.
Despite their outward differences, Cora and Duke bond over their affection for Jaime, but unintended betrayal and Jaime’s advancing disease threaten to derail their blossoming romance before it can truly take root.
Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti is a gorgeous debut novel that will resonate with the thoughtful fans of John Green’s blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars.
I’m going to be straight with you here and say that you probably won’t like Duke Meyer at first. He has a lot of money and a lot of privilege and the entitled attitude that come with those hurdles, and even the early glimmers that he might be something more are suspect. Please don’t give up on him! There is more behind Duke than you will ever guess, and he is going to go through a formative experience in this book. Cora, too, won’t really grab your heart strings. You will feel bad that Duke feels the need to comment on her appearance, but she isn’t exactly charming beneath the goth makeup. Please, stick it out! When Jamie enters the story, everything starts to shift, and you don’t want to miss what is coming. And you should keep your eye on tipsy Grandma, too, because she is smarter than you’ll ever give her credit for! The magic in this book is in the way that the characters aren’t perfect – it makes you underestimate everyone and it makes them seem like real, flawed and struggling people. That is what makes their surprising depth so believable when it is finally revealed. This book is sneaky good in other ways, too. There are several subplots, and some of them seem pretty frivolous – who is dating who and who is betraying who in high school. That is another part of the magic – high school doesn’t stop being high school just because you are about to get a serious life lesson. When it all comes together, there are some expected themes about friendship and love, but there are some unexpected and spectacular themes about responsibility and expectations. I really didn’t think this book was going to pack a punch, but it really, really did, and it will appeal to readers of both genders and YA fans of all ages. Pick it up, now!!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.