Author: Beth Kephart
Published: June 23rd, 2009 by HarperTeen
Source: Bought copy
Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery. There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts: symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story—the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.
General Overview: I loved the idea of this painting holding the key to the mystery. I found that so cool! When I was younger, my dad always used to take me to museums and I'd imagine hidden codes and secret passageways hidden within paintings. The whole mystery of this woman having disappeared for so long was intriguing, and I thought Beth Kephart executed it very well.
Characters: Katie was an interesting, complex character. You get this sense of grief around her, because of her mother, and yet there are these little moments when you almost feel like everything is going to be normal again. She wasn't a particularly brave or adventurous heroine, but I thought that she was extremely intelligent and mature for her age. I liked that she wasn't obsessed with boys or make up or clothes like so many other teenagers in books are -- that was refreshing for a change. I thought she could've been a little more developed -- there were times when her mother became more alive than she was, which you see through Katie's flashbacks.
Plot: So, this is a mystery. And you definitely get that element. Some parts do tend to drag a bit, those few parts where they're just digging, but other than that I thought that the plot was always kept alive by this whole missing-persons mystery. I thought the mystery element, while still pretty good, could have been executed better. Usually, when the hero/heroine solves the case, I get this feeling of satisfaction like "YES! OMG! I KNEW IT!" or "OMG I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!", but for NBG, I felt like the mystery wasn't very well developed. I didn't get that satisfied feeling. I couldn't understand how she suddenly solved it, and it took me a while to figure that out.
Writing: Beth Kephart writes in a way that absorbs the reader and leaves some things to the imagination instead of just telling you everything. A lot of books are like that, but NBG was absolutely not. I especially loved the flashback scenes; those were gorgeously described and written flawlessly.
Cover: This cover isn't really what interested me at first. I don't really get what significance the window and the curtain has to the story, but I thought it was a nice cover all the same -- it just didn't contain that WOW factor that really makes you stop and walk back to take a second look.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars