One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn
Guest review by Kari
source: copy from ALA17; all opinions are always our own
Official Summary (Add on Goodreads): Annie Browne is new at school in September 1918. Before Annie has a chance to meet the other girls in her class, clingy Elsie Schneider claims Annie as her best friend. Annie’s classmates don’t like Elsie: she’s a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie shares their opinion.
Annie finds other friends and stays away from Elsie, as far away as she can get. She even joins her new friends in teasing and picking on Elsie. After all, Elsie is obnoxious and her father is German-a Hun, the enemy in the war overseas.
Elsie becomes a victim of the deadly Spanish influenza. But her claim on Annie’s friendship lives on, and so does her anger at Annie and the others who made her life miserable. She will be Annie’s best friend, and she will have her revenge. Annie won’t get rid of her so easily this time….
Review: Annie Browne is a sweet girl, who wants to make friends at her new school, but Elsie Schneider immediately claims Annie as her own and Annie soon realizes that this will hurt her chances of becoming friends with the other girls who seem to be more like her. Elsie likes to talk about how mean the other girls are to her and tells on them to their teacher whenever she gets a chance. She doesn’t let Annie play any games at recess and even invited herself over to Annie’s where she proceeded to ruin some of the toys in Annie’s room. Elsie makes Annie feel nervous and all she wants to do is get away and make new friends. Elsie’s behavior is definitely mean spirited and it’s hard to feel sympathetic towards her.Guest Review: One for Sorrow- a Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn #bookreview Click To Tweet
When Elsie gets sick, Annie gets her chance to make friends with the other girls, but this leads to Annie making fun of Elsie along with everyone else. When Elsie ends up dying from the influenza that is taking over the country in 1918, Annie starts to feel guilty and believes that maybe her and her friends may have had a part in her death.
Everything seems to go on as normal, until Annie gets into a sled riding accident and hits her head. Elsie then shows up as a ghost and demands that Annie will be her best friend forever. She then proceeds to make Annie do and say things that Annie doesn’t want to do. Elsie takes over Annie’s life and uses Annie to get revenge. After everything Elsie does, it’s hard to see how anything will get better for Annie.
Ghost stories are always a fun read and this was a quick one. Annie is truly one of the most relatable characters and you can tell she feels guilty about what her friends do to Elsie, but Elsie isn’t the most likable character. Elsie definitely doesn’t know how to treat her friends and is very vengeful and makes Annie’s life miserable. This makes it hard to feel sympathetic towards her and sometimes she was more annoying than scary. At first it seems like there could be a moral to the story, but there really isn’t. You never get the sense that bullying is wrong and you don’t get to really learn why Elsie is so manipulative. Even though there were a few aspects I didn’t like about the story, it was still an entertaining story and I really enjoyed the historical portions, especially the news about World War I and how the Spanish influenza affected whole communities. As a whole, I believe many middle school aged readers will enjoy it and be able to relate to the emotions expressed by the characters.