What do you get when you mix AHS: Coven, Riverdale, Mean Girls, and Buffy? Answer: This Book. Brown Girl Ghosted centers on 16 year old Violet Choudhury, who lives in a small town in Illinois. She’s seen as the token brown friend by her group of mean girl white friends. But Violet has a secret… she can see dead people. She is a descendent of the Aiedeo, a line of powerful warrior women, who all possess supernatural abilities. She’s at odds with the spirits of her ancestors but is forced to confront her legacy when Naomi, the queen bee of the school, is mysteriously murdered after a leaked sex tape of hers goes viral. Naomi isn’t gone for long though—she comes back as a bhoot, a lost spirit. The Aiedeo make it clear that it’s up to Violet to find her killer. They temporarily make Violet into a bhoot as well and warn her that the change can become permanent if she can not find the murderer by fulfilling her magical destiny.
This book turns the camp all the way up to high heat and never really lets it simmer, so be prepared. It’s full of pop culture references that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. They are a little bit dated for today’s Gen Z. They seem to be more for the adult reader rather than the characters (for example, I don’t know many teenagers that still have Team Edward/Team Jacob arguments). The supporting characters embody their stereotype to the max, one mean girl speaks by saying “OMG” before every thought. Again, I don’t know many teenagers that actually speak like this in real life, but it’s kinda fun to imagine a wannabe Karen Smith running around in the book.
The rules of the universe are a little confusing at some points. Bhoots can not be seen by the average eye, but have the power to walk through walls or move objects around. I think that the book could have benefited from a little bit of clarification. Can all bhoots move things? Is there any rules to walking through objects/ holding said objects?
One of the strongest points in this book is how it dealt with the topic of slut shaming. Naomi was blamed and called a ho for being recorded in a sexual situation with two boys. They escaped all blame and everyone piled up on her instead because of the way she dressed and presented herself. It is revealed in the book that she was roofied, and she was filmed without her consent. She was blamed for her own rape, and I liked how it had a meaningful arc about victim blaming and revenge porn.
Brown Girl Ghosted is an entertaining read that brings to light important issues in an accessible YA format. However, at times these could get muddled within the plot, and the book could have benefited from an additional draft or two to really show instead of tell some of the important elements.