Kate Racculia. Like, a raccoon. Named Julia. I wonder if Ms. Racculia says something like this every time she's asked to repeat or spell her last name. Does she ever sigh and murmur, "Just read my books"?
Years ago I read her second novel, The Bellweather Rhapsody, and I loved it. Imagine hundreds of band, orchestra and choir students all converging onto one hotel for an annual high school musical extravaganza. Now, add some mysterious goings on, past and present. It's like Glee and Agatha Christie teamed up for one delightful read.
This month I found Kate Racculia all over again, and it has been wonderful reading two more of her books.
First I read Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. This book is so fantastic from start to finish. Starting with Ms. Tuesday, a loner, who researches wealthy people for a living. No, she's not a creep; she works for the fundraising wing of a hospital - she uses her powers for good. And then, she, and the entire city of Boston, are invited to join a real life treasure hunt. Naturally, she is joined by a sassy best friend, a wise teen, and a mysterious handsome stranger. It's like From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler all grown up. Kate Racculia never lets the plot get too zany, but she does take us for a fun, fun ride. And the characters are so well drawn. My co-worker read this book after me, and we both agreed that we would like to be friends with Tuesday. Alas, Tuesday is a loner; even her best friend struggles to be her friend.
I think Kate's characters are interesting because Kate is interesting, not in a mythical Kate's-a-gold-medal-Olympian-turned-Astronaut way, but she's studied a lot of different subjects and worked a lot of different jobs. So, if I can't be friends with Tuesday Mooney, I would like to have Kate Racculia over for tea and muffins, please.
Continuing my Racculia binge, I read her very first novel, This Must Be the Place.
I was going to review that this book is about friendship. But it's also about growing up. And growing different from who you once were. And, it's about love. Frankly, there's a lot going on this book.
I'm not ruining anything by telling you that a main character dies in the first page. Her grief ravaged husband travels across the country to the small town she grew up in to better understand her and what she left behind. The main story are the people in this small town who knew this woman, are still tied to this woman, and how they will form her legacy.
The characters in this book are hilarious. I want to have dinner with Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida (is she named for the cutlery?). I want Arthur to take my photo.
Kate Racculia writes a lot about teenagers - they figure pretty prominently in all three of her books, but not in a YA sense, more like how teenagers and their very real lives fit in with the adults and their lives. It never feels like her books are only for one sort of reader.