When the first chapter makes me fall in love with a character, then breaks my heart, I know it will be a good book. And Ellison doesn't disappoint.
[b:Notes from Ghost Town|15792589|Notes from Ghost Town|Kate Ellison|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353432838s/15792589.jpg|18442506] is an emotional story, and Ellison's beautiful writing swept me away so that I felt compelled to keep reading until the end. I loved that the characters are all real, imperfect, and multi-dimensional, the relationships complex, and the feelings raw.
Olivia, the protagonist, is a girl who ultimately struggles with trusting and accepting help from those around her. From a schizophrenic mother who is awaiting trial for the murder of Stern, her best childhood friend and the boy she was just discovering feelings for, to a father who seems to have moved on and is planning to remarry, to a best friend who she's beginning to feel distant and competitive with, Liv feels betrayed by those who were closest to her because she doesn't understand, or just doesn't agree with, how they currently are. A sudden colour-blindness and Stern's ghost appearing to her, signs that she herself may be developing the same illness as her mother, only adds to her feelings that she can't
confide in anyone else lest they think she's going crazy. I found Liv to be very relateable in this regard, because even though I didn't always agree with her thoughts and actions, and she could be frustrating at times, I could always understand where she was coming from and appreciate her character.
This book is both full of moments that are cute and funny and heartwrenching and that literally made me tear up. Any scene with Stern and Liv (or Liver, as he calls her, which is both funny and adorable) showed their easy yet deep relationship, and it broke my heart whenever he left.
The only slight downside to the book, I felt, is the mystery and its resolution. This isn't a book of intelligent sleuthing - many of the discoveries and resolutions basically happen by chance. However, this fit with the flavour of the book: are things really happening or are they projections from Liv's deteriorating mind? I might have been hoping for a reveal that was crazier or more original or more ambiguous, but the one in this book was perfectly reasonable.