What if the ghost costume you saw on Halloween is something a little more.. real? (Book review)

What if the ghost costume you saw on Halloween is something a little more.. real? (Book review)

Audrey Houghton, Reporter

Everyone’s familiar with a standard “ghost” halloween costume. You know the one; A sheet with the eyes cut out, covering everything but your feet. It’s a pretty innocent costume, but there’s one thing that’s creepy about it; You don’t know who, or what, is underneath. The book Sheets poses an interesting question; What happens when there really isn’t anyone under that disguise?

If you were a ghost in a human world, where would you go? In a beautiful graphic novel written by Brenna Thummler, Wendell is forced to face theat question of where to go since he died before he had a chance to grow up, and is thrown into the horrible world of becoming a ghost… One that looks suspiciously like a sheet with two eyes cut out of it. So, where’s the most logical place for a ghost made of a blanket to go? What about a laundromat, full of items and fabric torn with holes and stains anyways? This is where he meets the laundromat’s daughter, who’s grieving and moving on with the loss of a family member of her own.  He tries his best to help in any way he can, knowing better than anyone that death is a hard concept to grapple.

This book has heart, charm, and deals with tricky topics like grief, death, and moving on. It also gently asks the everlasting question: “Do you believe in ghosts?” One survey showed that 45% of Americans believed in ghosts, and 46% in other supernatural beings/occurrences. When I spoke to my classmates about it, many of them had their own ghost stories. One even said she’d had a ghost encounter that weekend! So, with the help of this book, I decided to dig into a few questions about the supernatural. Does all of Urbana feel the same way? And more importantly, can ghosts be good, or is Wendell’s story wishful thinking? 

To get to the bottom of this, I decided to interview a few people on their thoughts about ghosts. The first person I landed on was Nataila Johnson. She’s a tenth grader here at UHS. “Sure, I believe in ghosts,” She started. “We thought the school bathroom in [Windsor Knolls] middle school was haunted.” We continued to talk, and she added, “I think ghosts have free will. If they want to be bad they’re bad, if they want ro be good they’re good.” Overall, she was okay with the ideas of ghosts (and friendly ghosts, in particular).

Rebecca Rose Cuebas, a senior, actually gave me one of her stories about ghost encounters. “It was the middle of the night,” She said,  “And I was going back to my room, to sleep, of course. So I turn around, and right in front of me on the wall was a weird orb. And it just.. Floated in front of me for a second. Then it floated off. And I knew it wasn’t a car,” She added, “Because there was a bend, and the window was facing somewhere else. So it couldn’t have been a car’s headlights. And it actually did- it did scare me a little bit.” She laughed it off, and I asked her if that experience made her hope ghosts weren’t real. To my suprise, she told me it didn’t. “I mean, if ghosts didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have all these great horror movies. And.. I do think that life would be just a tad bit boring.” 

Even if you don’t enjoy horror, I think most people are at least curious about the concept of ghosts. Death is one of the few experiences that we will never be prepared for, because you’ll never truly understand death until you’ve experienced it. That’s what makes books like Sheets so fascinating; it’s, at its core, a gentle take on what might come next. The good, the bad, the ugly. Not to mention this book isn’t all that horrifying- You’d probably be able to sleep soundly at night after reading this at any age. If you’re like a good chunk of the students at Urbana that humor the idea of the supernatural, this may just be the book for you.

 Ballard, Jamie. “Many Americans Believe Ghosts and Demons Exist.” Yougov.com, YouGov, 21 Oct. 2019, today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/10/21/paranormal-beliefs-ghosts-demons-poll. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.