Since her mom died, Andie’s family has crumbled. Instead of working, her dad gambles away insurance money, while her sister, Paige, has put her future on hold in order to pick up extra waitressing shifts. Andie’s afraid of what will happen if people find out just how bad things are. She’s not sure how long she can hide the fact that there’s no food or money in the house...or adults, for that matter.
When her science partner suggests they study paranormal activity, Andie gets an idea. She wants a sign from her mom—anything to tell her it’s going to be okay. Maybe the rest of her family does too. So she starts a project of her own. Pretending to be her mother’s ghost, Andie sprays perfume, changes TV channels, and moves pictures. Haunting her house is Andie’s last hope to bring her family back into the land of the living.
For anyone who loved Counting by 7s, The Haunted House Project is a journey through loss and grief, but ultimately a story of hope and self-reliance. As much as Andie has been changed by her mother’s death, the changes she makes herself are the ones that are most important.
Writing in the candid voice of a 13-year-old whose mother recently died in a car accident, debut novelist Clasen offers a heartrending portrait of a family coping with sudden and enormous loss. As Andie's unemployed father buries his grief in alcohol and gambling, Andie worries about her older sister, who works long shifts as a waitress and seems to have shelved her college aspirations. Realizing that her mother "was the glue, and without her, maybe we'll never stick together again," Andie resolves to pull her family back together again by convincing her father and sister (and, to a degree, herself) that her mother's ghost is haunting their home. Unsurprisingly, her well-intentioned tactics spraying perfume, playing music, writing a message in dust are more unsettling than comforting, yet they trigger honest conversation that lets the family begin to heal. Clasen steers clear of melodrama, anchoring the story with authentic characters and emotions. Other affecting threads of the plot include the solace Andie finds in her mother's journals and her new friendship with a geeky, big-hearted boy. Ages 8 12.