A Ghost Refused: Kendra’s Denial by F. Stephen Foster is an interesting book, to say the least. My experience reading it was mostly uncomfortable. Let me explain…
The story follows Kendra. She had lost her husband to suicide a few years ago and is left with a lot of grief. In the first chapter, she tries to rescue a man committing suicide and fails. This completely changes her life as she is thrown in a world unfamiliar to her.
This is the best way to explain my experience of reading this book. I felt as if someone just told me they loved me and I couldn’t find the words to respond because I realized I didn’t feel the same way about them. Since page one this book is very dramatic and emotional. The main character is introspective and the first 25 pages are spent on her reliving the event that took place on the first page. It felt so stretched out and I simply couldn’t connect with her. The story is filled with emotions such as grief and pain and as much as the author did a great job explaining and showing them, it only made me anxious. I was anxious when I was reading this book and that made me consider putting it down.
To be completely honest I ended up skim reading most of the book after the 20% mark because I was so uncomfortable. This is my personal experience and it doesn’t mean other people won’t enjoy it.
The writing itself is great! The author finds all the right words. The story flows naturally and the writing is very poetic. To summarize this book in one sentence, this is an intense story of grief and pain.
However, as much as the writing is beautiful, I couldn’t connect to the characters. The author asks for immediate empathy for the protagonist and I simply didn’t care. Those (too) long descriptions only made me lose focus. Along with the fact that the descriptions were too long, there were also too many of them. Sentences were often repeated with a slight change. This is a great tool to create drama and tension, also to emphasize the gravity of what is being said. But when used too much, it loses strength.
Furthermore, the author sometimes goes too far with his poetic descriptions. For example: ‘Before the movie ended, I too slipped the bonds of wakeful anxieties and roamed the fertile estates of my dreams.’ This is simply an unnecessarily complex sentence.
The verbal and nonverbal interactions between characters were often unrealistic. For example: ‘His first four words were the same four that he always launched our conversations. “How ya doin’, Ken?”’ I’m sincerely bewildered by this sentence. Why is it so important? There is nothing special about the question the character asked!
Another this I dislike is the unnecessary mentioning of brands, the type of car for example. I hate when authors name a car, a supermarket, or a clothing brand if it isn’t relevant to the story… that’s just a free advertisement for the brand (unless it somehow is an advertisement, I guess). I think it cheapens the story.
To conclude, this book definitely isn’t for everyone. It is heavy and dense. The writing is poetic. If you’re planning to pick it up I recommend you be in the right mindset when you do!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.