Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia is actually an adult book, so you may be wondering why it’s showing up on a blog about young adult books! That is because this book is what we would call a good ‘crossover’ book. That is, it is a book written for adults that teens would probably enjoy if they are interested in reading adult books. Bellweather Rhapsody is a 2015 winner of the Alex Award, which is an annual award given by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) “to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults” (from the YALSA website).
This book weaves together traditional aspects from the murder mystery genre (anniversary of a murder! an old hotel! trapped in a snowstorm!), with both specific references to and imagery of The Shining, as well as high school camp and band geek stories to create an entirely original piece. Spoiler alert here – although the book is written with the possibility that it is a ghost story, it is completely realistic fiction, which it takes most of the book to discover. I loved this because the author was able to play on our stereotypes of various genres to set up our expectations, making the end almost more unexpected than anything supernatural could have been.
The characters are realistic and believable (even Viola Fabian, which is saying something!), and Kate does an incredible job of showing her readers the back stories of each character, as well as their wishes and motivations. She also deftly manages to show the greys that each person is made of – that not everything is black and white, and each person is made of both good and bad parts (although some certainly have more of one than the other!).
There are two main thing that set this book apart as adult rather than young adult – the first is parts of the story being told from the adults’ points of view, and the second is that despite the relatively happy ending (given the circumstances), there is an air of melancholy throughout the book. Neither of these things are typically found in YA, but both enhance this particular story.