Monday, July 8, 2019

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

(Thank you to Penguin Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of Stranger Things and Stand by Me about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls – a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place – Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the “Saturday Night Ghost Club.” But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly light-hearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a note-perfect novel that poignantly examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become, and establishes Craig Davidson as a remarkable literary talent.

my thoughts:

Misfit kids, the 1980s, and summer time - what more could I want in a book? Especially one that has been likened to Stranger Things and Stand By Me - two of my favorites! How could I not want to gobble this book up, right? And that book title, The Saturday Night Ghost Club - talk about cool and intriguing. The title alone would get me to read this story. Plus, the book's cover - I just love the colors and the visuals - the kids hanging out, the neighborhood, and the ghost of a girl. Hmm...that cover alone would make me pick up this book. Suffice it to say, I LOVED this book!!  Like, I really LOVED it - the story, the characters, the adventures - talk about UNFORGETTABLE!!

This is the story of Jake Baker, a neurosurgeon who is married with a son. He's a practical man, who holds people's lives in his hands. He's methodical, intelligent, and very good at his job.  However, this book isn't about his life as a neurosurgeon.  Nope, its about the summer he was twelve.  The summer that changed everything.  The summer he won't ever forget.

Its the last day of school and Jake is heading home.  Or at least he is trying to, but his arch nemesis, Percy, won't let him.  Okay, Percy is actually his ex-friend who turned bully on Jake.  And now, on the last day of school he has decided to torment Jake by throwing firecrackers at him.  Yep, Percy and his lackey, Terry, (you just know that Percy would have a sidekick) have cornered Jake.  Reeling from the first firework that scorched his retinas, made his ears ring, and have him lying on the ground, Jake prepares for the next firecracker by throwing his hands in front of him.  Except, the next firecracker doesn't come.  When he looks over at Percy, he sees blood. Seems like Percy got injured.  But, how? Well, turns out that someone came to Jake's rescue.  Yep, a girl is standing nearby holding a rock in her hand, ready to clock Percy in the head once more. Unhappy that he got hit and that his plan to torture Jake has gone awry, Percy and his lackey scram.  Jake tries talking to the girl, but finds that words seem to be failing him. She grabs her skateboard and skedaddles.  And now, summer has truly begun.

So, what is summer time like for Jake? Well, without any friends, it pretty much consists of Jake hanging out at his Uncle C's (C for Calvin) shop, the Occultorium.  One day he's there listening to his Uncle and Lex  (Uncle C's bff) talking about UFOs when a boy walks into the shop.  A kid about his age.  Turns out the kid wants some help.  His grandmother just passed away and he wants to talk with her and make sure she's okay.  Uncle C says he can help. He goes down into his basement and brings up a box with a "psycho-phone" in it. Well, the phone doesn't work and the boy doesn't get to talk with his grandmother.  However, the three make a plan to ensure that Billy (that's the kid's name) does get to say "goodbye" to his grandmother.  And following that outing, the Saturday Night Ghost Club is born.  Along with a new friendship - Billy and Jake. Oh, and turns out that the girl who rescued Jake from Percy and the firecrackers, is none other than Billy's older sister, Dove.

As the summer unfolds, and the two friends get to know one another, we find out more about Jake's family and Billy's.  We learn about local legends/rumors of the supernatural variety as this motley crew investigates them around town.  We watch Jake fall in love.  We cheer for Jake when he stands up for himself and fights back.  And we learn about how bad things (actually, horrifying and traumatizing things) happen to good people.  This is a story chock full of adventure, magic, the supernatural, nostalgia, and emotions to the nth degree.  It is such a delicious treat to read. It has everything and more.  These kids and their stories are troubling, relatable, authentic and real.  And the things we learn about them and their families will break your heart and tear you up.  Their will also be moments when you can't help but smile, laugh out loud and whoop for joy.  This is a book that just delivers.

Talk about an awesome book! Craig Davidson has knocked it out of the park with The Saturday Night Ghost Club.  This is a story that will have you reminiscing about your own childhood and leave you feeling ALL THE FEELS.  The writing is excellent - the way it hooks you right in and keeps you turning pages all night long.  You can't help but want to stay in the story and read more about Jake, Billy, Uncle C, Dove, and Lex.  Best friends, bullies, crushes, secret clubs, BIG revelations, bicycling all over town, hot sunny days, and ghost stories - this book has it all in spades and it just screams Stranger Things, Stand By Me, and Goonies all rolled into one.

And, that is all I will write about the book. It is just too good to missed, so I don't want to ruin anything for you by writing too much about what happens. You have to read it for yourself and experience all the awesomeness that is The Saturday Night Ghost Club.  I am serious - it is a must-read!!  So, definitely check it out!

Thank you to Penguin Books (Penguin Random House) for providing me with a copy of this book!


bermudaonion said...

I bet my son would love this!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Kathy, its such a fun book. I think anyone who reads it will just love it to bits :)

Lark said...

I do love these kinds of stories. :)