Mona’s Books: “The Afterlife of Holly Chase”

During the Holiday season, we are especially inspired to be better and kinder people. We all try our best to be good, but all of us have regrets. We can be selfish sometimes and do or say things that hurt other people. What if we could bear witness to how our worst moments can impact people we care about? What would you do if you were given the chance to see how your actions truly impacted people? Would you change?

One of the most well-known stories with this theme of regret and redemption is that of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It has been retold a number of times and in a number of different ways. “The Afterlife of Holly Chase” offers a unique take on the classic story through the perspective of one of the ghosts.

“The Afterlife of Holly Chase,” written by Cynthia Hand chronicles the afterlife of a seventeen-year-old girl, Holly Chase who gets a second chance to redeem herself by working for Project Scrooge, a company that attempts to rehabilitate one person every Christmas. Holly Chase is a former Project Scrooge failure, who did not learn the lesson of her visitation by her ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. After her death, she is given the option to work for
the very same company that tried to change her. She takes on her job as the ghost of Christmas Past. Her heart is not really in it, but as long as she works for the company, she can feel like part of the world and avoid passing into the next existence. That changes when the new “Scrooge” appears: a seventeen-year-old boy named Ethan Winters The Third, who reminds Holly of her past self.

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times best-selling author of several books for young adults, including “The Afterlife of Holly Chase,” written in 2017. The book is written from the point of view of the titular character. The protagonist is very likable, even when she is being a terrible person. The book is primarily lighthearted, but as the author reveals Holly’s complicated past, the book takes on a wistful and pensive tone.

Despite this melancholy, the author conveys optimism and hope through her character development. We see Holly grow from a selfish teen who is only looking out for herself, into someone who genuinely cares about people. The friendships that she makes as she grows are what give this book heart. The author intersperses Holly’s backstory throughout the book, making her a sympathetic and relatable character as we discover that even the most self-centered person has a reason for being who they are. Even though the book is detailed in its description of the setting and place, it is a fast-paced read that comes in at 400 pages.

“The Afterlife of Holly Chase” allows you to ponder matters of life and death, without being too serious about it. Holly Chase makes for an interesting and sympathetic character on this journey of self-discovery and redemption. Do we really need another rehashing of this tired tale? Of course, we do, ya big Scrooge!
4.5/5 Stars