Life After Theft
When Jeff begins high school in a new town, he is surprised to see a hot girl stretched out in the busy hallway. He is even more surprised to discover that he is the only one who can see or hear her. Others can even step through her. Kimberlee realizes that Jeff is the only one who can help her atone for bad things she did in her life, and the two begin a partnership that changes them and everyone around them in this humorous, satisfying paranormal story.
"While humor and romance make this an enjoyable read, the question of atonement provides a thought provoking and satisfying theme."
Kimberlee has languished in a ghost state with no one noticing until Jeff. While living, she was popular but a kleptomaniac who literally took whatever she wanted. She also hurt people she didn’t like. Jeff tries to ignore Kimberlee at first, concentrating on his new school and life in Santa Monica. But soon he realizes she is not going away, and he agrees to go look at her cave in which Kimberlee had hidden boxes of things she stole from people in organized bags. She wants Jeff to return everything, hoping it will help her move on.
Serafina is another girl who catches Jeff’s attention, but she is very much alive. He learns that Serafina hated Kimberlee, as did her popular jock brother. No one seems to have anything nice to say about her. When Jeff begins returning some of the stolen items secretly, Serafina says she always suspected that Kim was the thief and that she does not trust anything that comes back from her either. Jeff grows closer to Serafina despite Kim’s warnings to stay away from her.
Most people are thrilled to have their stolen items back, including beloved articles from family members or photos. Some materials are harder to return than others. Boxes of merchandise from stores is not wanted by managers, and the police soon start questioning Jeff about where the items came from. The principal wants to make an example of the thief. Jeff is forced to share his secret when Khail, Serafina’s brother, corners him. Kimberlee knows secrets about Khail, and the boy will do anything to help make her disappear forever. He gets his teammates to help Jeff return things in big splashy events to large groups of people at once.
While humor and romance make this an enjoyable read, the question of atonement provides a thought provoking and satisfying theme. As the authorities close in on Jeff while he tries to complete his mission for Kimberlee, Jeff and Kimberlee both learn about taking responsibility. This is not the usual story of afterlife and fixing wrongs; readers will be surprised --- but pleased --- by the ending. Pike shows the growth of several characters in this book, and it is fun to find how a thoroughly unlikeable person and bully can change. Fans of PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King will also enjoy this one.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on April 23, 2013