Cemetery Street by John Zunski
Review by Ella
Cemetery Street is not a book, it is a life. There is more emotion in this story than any TV drama can ever evoke in a whole season of daily episodes. I’m struggling to find a genre that would encompass such a wide range of sensations.
I suppose it is a ‘coming of age’ in essence. James Morrison, aged twelve, moves to a town he doesn’t know, in a house opposite a cemetery (which frightens him) and the family atmosphere isn’t all that special. Luckily, his next door neighbour, Shannie, aged thirteen, is there to help ease the tension.
Instant infatuation makes James’ life a little more bearable and he continues to explore the town, its inhabitants and Shannie’s friends and haunting grounds.
I won’t give away the surprises. This is one of those books that contains no high-speed chases, no deranged psycho watching from the shadows, and no bloodbath or inexplicable murders. Despite all that, or maybe because it is a simple story of life, you will not be able to put it down. I couldn’t. To me, every decision James took, every conversation between him and his friends, every hope, every disappointment were so vitally important to know, to be party to, that work was left undone and someone else had to do the cooking because I simply had to keep reading.
John Zunski is the master of characterization. Each character is well developed and has its own voice – and I mean every single one, whether they appear in every chapter, or live for a mere few lines. It is impossible to not care. I loved Shannie, James, Count and got drawn in to Genise’s world, too. I loved the gang of kids waiting on a street corner and admired the quiet assertiveness of Jerome when he decided Ellie wasn’t that bad a dog.
The back stories that play along in the background highlight a different person each time. If there is one message that is very clear is that no one is ever what they seem. Every person is different, regardless of what they may look like, but there is value in every life, no matter how tortured or stunted or anguished it may be.
I loved this book. I absolutely didn’t want it to end. I cared so much, I wanted to protect its characters from life itself. I wanted to take care of them all and jump on a plane to go and help, if I could. I was so deeply immersed in it when I finished, that I needed to take a couple of days away from it before I could be cool enough to write this review. I have been moved to tears and I didn’t expect that.
With no hesitation, I would recommend this book over and over again. Read it. It is most definitely worth it. It gets full marks from me – 5 out of five stars.
To get your copy of Cemetery Street please check out the following Amazon links:
UK: Cemetery Street
USA: Cemetery Street