Ballad for a Mad Girl
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Publication date: May 29th, 2017
by Text Publishing
Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything—except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe.
That night she experiences something she can’t explain. The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions—but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.
As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined—all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.
Everything about her is changing—her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?
-A copy was provided by Text Publishing for review-
For someone who has had Vikki Wakefield on her tbr for over half a decade, it has taken me a surprisingly long time to finally pick up a book by her. I went in with the expectation that I would at least like it but ended up being surprised in pleasant ways.
OZ YA, in my opinion, tends to be much grittier than US YA so its always refreshing to find myself lost within the pages of an OZ YA. Ballad for a Mad Girl is many things. Its partly a paranormal murder mystery, partly an exploration of mental health and partly a coming of age.
Grace Foley is a bit of a prankster. She takes risks few people are willing to take and has a whole lot of fun being judge-y and occasionally mean. Of course, she and her family are still dealing with the reeling loss of her mom and trying to figure out their new family dynamics. I KNOW. It feels like such a cliche of “jerk character with a sad back story” but I feel like Grace is written in a way that never feels inauthentic or too trope-y.
While taking on a dangerous dare to stick it to the snobby private school kids, something happens. Grace hears a voice and sees something. Perhaps something paranormal? Something related to an unsolved murder that happened in her town two decades ago.
Her body is changing but so are her friendships and her familial relationships. Partly because her friends and family don’t really believe her but also because Grace has never been big on change and she struggles to come to term with the ways in which her friends and family defy the roles she has always known them to occupy in her life.
Ballad for a Mad Girl is truly a remarkable book because it is so many things occupying the same page-space. I love that it can be a truly creepy mystery while also having important discussions about mental health and grief. The unreliable narrator-esque narration style takes the book and readers to a whole new plane.
Is it cheating to say that words are too hard to really describe how great Ballad for a Mad Girl is? I feel like it is but at the same time, it truly is a phenomenal book and starkly contrasts EVERYTHING IVE READ THIS YEAR. It is a breath of fresh air and makes me want to beat myself over having not read Vikki Wakefield earlier. SO YES, you should read this book because it has something to offer all kinds of readers and it is extremely well written.
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