Random House Books for Young Readers
August 26, 2014
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Home is where the bodies are buried.
Darkly humorous and heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Jennifer Longo’s YA debut about a girl stuck living in a cemetery will change the way you look at life, death, and love.
Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:
Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.
At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).
Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?
With Six Feet Over It, I like the cover and I like the book, but I don' think the cover reflects the book very well. Yes, there's a headstone, a girl and it's in a cemetery, but that girl is not very reflective of Leigh.
Fourteen-year-old Leigh is not loving her father's choice to move them from their seaside home to a inland cemetery. Leigh knows people are going to give her a hard time for where she lives, it is high school, after all; she just wishes they would get their facts straight. It's not like there are dead bodies in her basement.
But death is definitely a part of Leigh's life. For years it felt like it was just around the corner while her older sister Kai had cancer. Now, with Kai in remission and the family moved to live in/run the cemetery, it's Leigh's job.
Leigh's family is a dysfunctional one, to say the least. Her father moved the family with seemingly no discussion from the only home the girls ever had; her mother spends her days pining for and painting the sea. Neither seems to know what's going on with their daughter. The one person Leigh could share her pain with - the stress of moving, the trouble at school, the loss of her best friend - is her sister, Kai. Except she can't.
Leigh's feelings for her sister, her feelings about herself in relationship to her sister are all sorts of jumbled.
I like that Leigh does not always make sense. She has a story we slowly find more out about as the book progresses. It's not just her new, unconventional home causing turmoil in her life, she's holding in a lot of guilt and grief. The location and her job provide an interesting outlet for all that's in Leigh's head.
The thing that did not work for me in Six Feet Over It, was Leigh's age. She's fourteen when the novel starts (closer to fifteen, but still fourteen). The 'slightly-too-old-for-her' character the synopsis mentions is almost twenty. That seems a bit more than 'slightly.' I wanted Leigh to be older, but her age did seem to fit, especially with how much time passes during the novel. Some of the mentions of what happened the year before, while in Mendocino, seemed to young, though. For an eighth grader, some of what happened seemed a better fit for a character a year or two younger.
Overall, this is an enjoyable book. Leigh's family - the whole lot of them - is definitely kooky but they are well developed and realistic, even in their eccentricities. Leigh herself is an interesting that I liked quite a bit more as the story progressed. Six Feet Over It will also make you want some York Peppermint Patties.
Another book you might also enjoy: Putting Makeup On Dead People by Jen Violi
advance digital copy received from publisher, through NetGalley for review