[REVIEW] The Girl Who Came Back to Life

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Series: N/A
Craig Staufenberg
middle grade, fantasy, adventure
April 16, 2014
The Girl Who Came Back to Life: A Fairytale
A book about love and loss, and how to live in a world filled with both... 
When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world.  
After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father's spirits back home with her.  
Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother-by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans-Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons-what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

*             *             *
“You may be surprised.”The weathered woman tapped Sophie’s recovered leg. “A little time and a little air heals most wounds.”
*             *             *

I read The Girl Who Came Back to Life because the premise caught my attention. The idea of travelling to ‘the City of the Dead’ in order to send off your dead loved ones is a very interesting idea. And I was so sure that it’ll be a heartwarming read give that it’s an adventure of a 12-year-old girl.

For me, The Girl Who Came Back to Life is a very beautiful story full of ups and downs, and moments of glory and struggle. With the death of Sophie’s parents, she was sent to live with her grandmother. Together, they traveled north towards the City of the Dead in order to send their loved ones to the next world. Their journey allowed them to meet various people. There was a nice amount of development on Sophie’s relationship with her grandmother. It was one of the things I really liked in here.

Sophie’s adventure was really one of a kind. I have to admit that there were moments I’ll feel as if Sophie was too young for this journey but as the story progresses I get this feeling that her journey isn’t just about reaching her destination – the City of the Dead. Sophie’s journey signifies her journey in life – seeing the good and bad sides of life, moving on from the death of her parents, looking at the things that are right in front of her, seeing the things that truly matter right now.

One of the things that I truly love in here is the writing style. While I do admit that the third person and complete narrative style of storytelling put me off at the start, I gradually learned to appreciate it – it was subtle, descriptive, and quite engrossing.  There was just really something really beautiful in Staufenberg’s words – the way he ends each chapter with Sophie’s ponderings or very striking words.

The ending was truly unforgettable. It simply made me smile. I really love how it ended in somehow the same way it began.

*             *             *

What I Like: (1) the premise, (2) the beautiful writing style, (3) Sophie’s adventure which is much more than just an adventure to a certain place. It’s the adventure called life, (4) the ending – really beautiful and quite unforgettable

What I Didn’t Like: (1) I was initially put off by the perspective, (2) I didn’t feel so much for Sophie

interesting premise + beautiful words + engaging adventure = nice read

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Craig Staufenberg is a writer and filmmaker living in NYC.

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