The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R. M. Romero ~ Book Review
my father is still running from Prague.
my mother is still fleeing Havana.
my entire family is still trying to escape history.
(But if that’s true, what am I doing here, drowning in it?)
I was a little confused when I started the book. I liked it, but I was like, is the formatting just off? Well, turns out NetGalley put it in the poetry section for a reason.
Do I like modern poetry? No. 9 times out of 10 I don’t care for it and I have to think of something nice to say because I like the poet. In this case, it weirdly works, and while individual quotes won’t work for you, the overall effect of the book does. It makes it soft and slow and perfectly conveys a haunting, and the darkness behind it.
Ilana has been banished from Miami for the summer. Her parents have taken her violin and want her to focus on studying for the SATs for the summer in Prague with her aunt.
“I fight with my parents. I dream about monsters. What else do you do when you’re sixteen?”
They also hope that the life of a writer will scare Ilana away from becoming a musician and turn to a more sensible career. Ilana instead tends to a cemetery and meets a Jewish ghost named Benjamin, who shows her around Prague and the ways in which it’s haunted by more than just ghosts.
“I want to clean Benjamin’s grave, lay a stone there for him.
(Flowers would wither
and fade. A stone is eternal— like memory,
But how can I honor a disappearing boy when I don’t even know where he’s buried?”
Ilana meets the 3 other ghost children, all Jewish; it was a rabbi who had cast the man without a shadow out of his original home. While she wants to join them and be understood for her music in their home, she slowly comes to understand what it means to be a vodnik and why the ghosts are fading.
“If you must live with a monster, it’s safer to be adored by him above all others.”
Can’t wait to see more by this author in the future!
Book Blurb for The Ghosts of Rose Hill
“A must-read for lost souls everywhere.” —Kirkus,STARRED REVIEW
Magic will burn you up.
Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.
When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.
But Benjamin isn’t the only one interested in Ilana. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if it means losing him—forever.
With spellbinding verse prose, R.M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original tale, inspired by her experiences restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.