Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

My first ‘summer’ read.  Could be described as ‘chick lit’ – whatever that means.  A light, fluffy affair that I practically flew through in a day or two.  But not a winner, sadly.

Lucy is in her late-ish twenties, getting married in 8 weeks, and has just spent her small inheritance on a girls only vacation to Hawaii.  Perfection.  Unfortunately, when she arrives home all her stuff has been placed in the front lawn of the house she shares with her fiancee (except her dog who she’ll have to pick up later).  Then she gets fired.  With her life unraveling before her eyes, she packs up and moves in with her sister and nephew.  The next day as she’s making her way to the unemployment office – WHAM! – a bus takes her out.  Dead as a door nail – literally.

Stuck in a sort of limbo, Lucy must graduate from ghost school in order to head back down to Earth and haunt her way into The State.  She’s got good deeds and unfinished business to complete before she can truly move on – but being stuck haunting her ex-fiancee and his new bitch girlfriend (who helped get her fired) doesn’t sound like the most amazing death experience.  Will she survive her death and transcend to a heavenly afterlife or get stuck spooking the very same people who ended up making her end of days miserable?

I’ve never read anything by Notaro before, but I’ve heard her comedic works are witty and entertaining.  Spooky Little Girl sounded like a great ‘fun’ read that would require very little thinking and a lot of laughing.  And it had its moments.  The ghost school section was highly entertaining and I wish Notaro would have fleshed that part out a bit.  Instead, most of the novel’s beginning and middle are spent either in build-up to Lucy’s sudden demise and her ‘haunting’ – both of which are incredibly boring.  The haunting bit, at least the first 50 pages or so, was literally this – Lucy doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be doing, she doesn’t know her purpose, this haunting business sure is lonely – and boring.  Well, it was boring for the reader as well.  The ending definitely picked back up, but not enough to even out the roller coaster pacing.

Some of Notaro’s trademark humor does find its way into Spooky Little Girl – mostly in the ghost school section (again, best part of novel).  I wouldn’t necessarily call her witty – more like dryly sarcastic, which is fine.  I enjoy a good dose of sarcasm as much as anyone, but there wasn’t anything fresh or clever about the humor.

The characters are largely forgettable, but I wasn’t really expecting them not to be.  Lucy is rather likeable.  She never really annoyed me which is a huge plus in books of this nature.  But she never inspired me to better things either – nor did she develop really.  In place of character development, there was plot resolution.  She completes her task and gets her happy ending, but she’s still the same old Lucy at the end.  Would have preferred a bit more on that front.

I won’t delve too much into the wonky POV change 2/3 of  the way through the story.  Just know that it gets a bit weird.  Other than that oddity, the writing was fairly smooth, easy to get through, and simplistically enjoyable.  Especially in summer fare.

Before I stop my blathering, I just have to mention Tulip, the dog.  She was a great character and by far the one I cared most for.  I admit before all of you that I teared up twice during her story, but luckily things work out for Tulip in the end.  I’m such a sucker for the doggies.  Poor Lucy gets flattened by a bus – meh, no big deal.  Tulip has a growth on her leg – DEAR GOD – rush her to the emergency room right now!!  Me in a nutshell.

Reading Spooky Little Girl didn’t add or take away anything of importance to my life.  My time spent with Lucy and Tulip was fine, but not memorable.  And it didn’t encourage me to seek out more of Notaro’s work.  I’d recommend this novel to anyone who thinks the premise sounds like a good time, loves a great dog character, or just needs a brain vacation.