Ben Sherwood,
The Death & Life
of Charlie St. Cloud

(Bantam, 2004)

Ever since he awoke from a tragic car accident with his baby brother's ghost at his side, Charlie has been burdened by an unearthly gift. Thirteen years later, he is still laboring under this dubious talent, serving as a welcome wagon for the newly departed as the caretaker of Marblehead's village cemetery. Here, he spends his days comforting the recently bereaved -- and the recently deceased -- while he aches from loneliness and the terrible guilt he can never seem to bury away.

Then one day a woman and a party of aggressive ducks enter his isolated world. And when the ducks depart, famous sailor Tess Carroll remains to uncover his sadness with her emerald eyes and snappy wit. But will love sweep Charlie into a bold new future, or will the secret promises of his past and the strange truth about Tess keep Charlie's life forever in limbo?

As he explores the mistakes we make on both sides of the Veil, author Ben Sherwood leaves readers touched by the tender powers of forgiveness and the redemptive powers of love. Like Alice Hoffman, Sherwood knows how to paint in magical colors without the obscuring effects of glitter. His characters shine with the extraordinary light of ordinariness, and his version of Marblehead glows with so much warmth and character, you'll want to leap away from your computer to join a fishing boat crew. And after reading this book, you just might have the guts to do it, because The Death & Life of Charlie St. Cloud proves it's never too late to begin a new journey or complete an old one.

- Rambles
written by Tracie Vida
published 9 October 2004

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