Riley's Ghost by John David Anderson - BLOG TOUR

I'm not afraid of ghosts.... I don't believe in ghosts... I'm not afraid of ghosts...

Okay, I'm lying ... a little.

I don't believe in ghosts, but the IDEA of ghosts always freaks me right out. I'm a fully grown adult, and I'll admit I couldn't read this book right before bed. In spite of a hearty case of pandemic foggy brain, I had trouble putting this book down (as long as I didn't try to read it in the dark).

I'm so excited to share this newest book by John David Anderson with you!

Here's a little blurb about the book itself, and then we'll dive into some of my thoughts.

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

From the author of Posted comes a ghost story pulled from the darkest shadows of middle school—and a tale of one girl’s attempt to survive them.

Riley Flynn is alone.

It feels like she’s been on her own since sixth grade, when her best friend, Emily, ditched her for the cool girls. Girls who don’t like Riley. Girls who, on this particular day, decide to lock her in the science closet after hours, after everyone else has gone home.

When Riley is finally able to escape, however, she finds that her horror story is only just beginning. All the school doors are locked, the windows won’t budge, the phones are dead, and the lights aren’t working. Through halls lit only by the narrow beam of her flashlight, Riley roams the building, seeking a way out, an answer, an explanation. And as she does, she starts to suspect she isn’t alone after all.

While she’s always liked a good scary story, Riley knows there is no such thing as ghosts. But what else could explain the things happening in the school, the haunting force that seems to lurk in every shadow, around every corner? As she tries to find answers, she starts reliving moments that brought her to this night.

My Thoughts:

The promotional material for Riley's Ghost talks about the ghostly chill factor. But anyone who has been in middle school knows that kids that age are endlessly looking for ways to laugh and groan over marginally off-color things, right? The beginning of this novel definitely grabbed my funny bone before it darted off into the spooky shadows.

Once we get into the meat of the tale, we dive right into other facets of life that are true for middle school kids -- struggles over friendship, independence, and wrangling powerful emotions. Anderson deftly weaves the storyline of Riley's challenges with those of the haunts she encounters that night. I found myself tempted to peek ahead in the book for reassurance as I developed a deepening connection with Riley and the ghosts of the past.

I can't wait to share this book with the literacy classes at my school!

Favorite Quotes:

"sometimes things slip out no matter how tightly you hold them."

"Ghost stories are all about loss. About getting left behind. Which is pretty scary if you think about it."

"Ghost stories are usually about making amends"

Who will like this book?

Kids who like scary (but not TOO scary) stories. This one has a nice, slow burn. As the quotes above show, sometimes ghost scary is deeper than a horror jump scare.

Kids who are struggling with fitting in or having challenging friendships. Especially those who have struggled with managing their own big emotions related to these challenges.


John David Anderson is the author of many highly acclaimed books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, One Last Shot, and Stowaway. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife, two frawesome kids, and clumsy cat, Smudge, in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at

Check out other books by John David Anderson that I've posted about on my blog -- yes, this is how much I enjoy everything he's written! 

Disclaimer: I received free access from the publisher to a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts about the novel.

Tour Stops
January 10 Nerdy Book Club @Nerdy Book Club
January 12 A Nerdy Bibliophile in Wanderlust @bethshaum
January 13 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read
January 14 A Library Mama @alibrarymama
January 15 Maria's Mélange @mariaselke
January 18 Lit Coach Lou @litcoachlou


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