When Jackson died, his girlfriend Ava was left alone.
Surrounded by well-meaning family and friends, but alone all the same. Because it's not them she wants, it's Jackson. She wants him back more than anything.
And then, somehow, she has him back. His presence in her house, the whisper of his voice in the air.
She loves him. He haunts her.
I wasn't sure what to expect from a YA novel written in verse, so I picked up I Heart You, You Haunt Me with a certain degree of trepidation. On one hand, I hoped that the writing would be beautiful and that it would open my eyes to a whole new way of experiencing YA literature. On the other, I feared mushy greeting-card tweeness or the possibility of just not getting it. Having read the novel twice through in a couple of days, I'm happy to say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more.
In I Heart You, You Haunt Me Lisa Schroeder gives us a wonderfully crafted, touching story told in a series of poems. It's evocative, bittersweet and as haunting as the title would lead you to hope. This slim volume is a quick read but still manages to achieve a sense that the reader has been on a journey with the narrator. Like poetry? You'll love this. Don't think you like poetry? Don't be so sure. This isn't the flowery, overblown variety you might be thinking of. It's accessible, it's real and it speaks to your heart.
Our narrator is fifteen year old Ava, lost and consumed by grief. She's also suffering from guilt - about the circumstances of Jackson's death, which are gradually revealed to us throughout the novel, and about living her life when the boy she loves has lost his. As she shares her innermost thoughts with us, we learn about the dreams that haunt her and even the favourite songs that resonate with her. Schroeder tells Ava's story with a voice that is absolutely believable as that of a fifteen year old, and that makes I Heart You, You Haunt Me an incredibly uplifting and enjoyable read.
I would recommend I Heart You, You Haunt Me to any reader. It fills my heart with gladness that this kind of book exists: it's unique and brave writing that swims against the tide. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more YA novels written in verse, and I'll be picking up Lisa Schroeder's Far From You and Chasing Brooklyn in the very near future. I'd urge everyone to give this one a go. It's just beautiful.