The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, by Paige McKenzie ISBN 9781602862722
Five out of five stars
Sunshine Griffith was adopted by her mother Kat when she was found, still covered with amniotic fluid, shortly after being born. Kat is a nurse and shortly after Sunshine’s sixteenth birthday, the two of them move from sunny and hot Austin, Texas to the cool and damp town of Ridgemont, Washington.
To Sunshine, everything in her environment feels creepy as it is now wet and smells of mildew. Kat’s reaction is to point out that her perceptions are natural, given the environment she is accustomed to. However, Sunshine quickly realizes that their new home is haunted, most likely by a young girl that is both playful and terrified.
At first, Kat is aware of the same sounds and actions that Sunshine is, but that ends fairly quickly. Not only is Kat now oblivious to the actions of the ghost(s), but the close relationship between the two of them is fading fast. Kat works long hours at the local hospital that keeps her away, but even when she takes time off, her interaction with Sunshine is dramatically reduced in both quantity and quality.
With the help of her bookish classmate Nolan, Sunshine learns about spirits and other aspects of the supernatural, specifically how it relates to herself and her situation of the haunting and the changes in her mother. Sunshine generally refuses to accept that she has such power and responsibility, she is very clumsy, not someone that would appear to have a chance against a demon. There is a climactic battle at the end, where Sunshine must face and defeat a powerful demon if the people she cares about are to survive. The book closes with what is clearly the lead-in to a sequel.
The story is narrated from Sunshine’s perspective and she is most definitely a sixteen-year-old girl that is in over her head. She maintains contact with her best friend in Austin, has difficulty relating to boys and her other classmates and wants her relationship with her mother to be frozen as it was before the move. Sunshine also wants to succeed in school and to understand and cope with the spirits in her house.
This is a lot to ask of a girl her age, yet with the help of others with greater knowledge of the subject of ghosts, Sunshine is able to face the problem and deal with it. She also learns a great deal about her origins and what she is capable of. If it were not for the presence of the spirits, you could say that Sunshine has matured.