Wes is in New York City for the summer taking a film course at NYU, hoping he can do well enough to transfer to the university for the fall. He’s working on a documentary; his classmate Tyler is working on an experimental, artsy film that he hopes will launch a fabulous career. They both first see Annie when they’re filming a séance for Tyler’s film. She seems different than any other girl he’s met or seen, beautiful, almost ethereal and a bit otherworldly. But then she’s gone, and he desperately wants to find her. Meanwhile, he gets to know another girl who was also at the séance, Maddie, a punk, tattooed “freegan.”
A day or two later, Wes manages to find Annie right in front of the old apartment building where the séance was held. They have a short but strange conversation and then she has to run off. She says she’ll be right back, but she doesn’t return.
Eventually, they do have more interaction, and both Wes and Annie come to realize that she’s not quite at home in the New York of today. She is scared and confused but mainly just wants to find her ring, a cameo her forbidden boyfriend gave to her. As the book moves forward, her story becomes clearer, and it’s just as clear that she is running out of time to find her ring and some resolution.
Author Katherine Howe says The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen is a “ghost story” that never uses the word “ghost.” The reader feels for Annie and what she’s going through, while hoping that all can somehow work out well for the characters, even knowing there has to be some kind of bad ending for Annie. I enjoyed the story and thought it held together pretty well but wished there was just a bit more detail at the end to clarify some points. Maybe that’s just me, though.
Rated: Moderate. There’s one use of strong language and really not much other language. There are some kissing scenes and some “hoping for more” on the part of Wes. This book is probably best classified as “new adult.”