First of all, I apologize for my delay in posting this review!
This a book full of sadness. The sadness of losing a parent (or two). The sadness of losing a pet (or a long list of pets). The sadness of moving to a new house in a new town, and then finding out your new house is called “The Gravedigger’s Cottage,” and that you and your brother are referred to as “Diggers” or “Diggerkids.” The sadness of watching your remaining parent withdraw further and further into his own anxieties until it seems like he doesn’t have any space for you anymore. Fortunately, the book isn’t all about sadness –it’s also quite funny. Even the stories of the pets deaths have a certain black humor to them, although I have to tell you that I had to skip over at least one of them. I love the way Sylvia tells the story of her life with her brother (half brother, actually), Walter, and her father. Her father has moved them to this cottage by the sea, supposedly to start a new life in a place not haunted by all those deaths, but after they move in, their father starts to obsess about fixing what’s wrong with the house (which is a lot). Soon he’s not leaving the house at all, not even to do their annual back-to-school shopping trip, and it’s up to Sylvia and Walter to snap him out of it. Review by Stacy Church