When Pooch (who got his nickname from one of his mother's ex-boyfriends, because he is allergic to everything and is always scratching) sees Verbena dressed in her tattered nightgown standing alone on the shore of Bonners Lake, he is certain she is the ghost of a girl who used to live in his house.
Looking for an escape from her frustrating life and the changes that happen on the cusp of starting middle school, Verbena plays along with Pooch and pretends she is the ghost of Tracey Allen, a girl who died many years ago while swimming in Bonners Lake. So begins an unlikely friendship between allergy ridden Pooch and the not-quite-really-a-ghost Verbena.
Verbena suffers from FAS Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and is small and pale and young for her age. Verbena is trying to process some new information, that her parents aren't really her parents, and that her real mother tried to pickle her before she was born. AND that her father is in prison for killing a man. Verbena is certain that like her father she is deep-down bad.
Readers will relate to Verbena's struggle. Ideal for 4th-7th grades.