Ordinary Ghosts - Eireann Corrigan
Emil's life has been turned upside down in the last year. His mother has died of cancer and his brother, who he has always looked up to, has disappeared without a trace. Emil and his father don't communicate about anything important and rarely see each other due to his father's work schedule. The only friend he has is Soma, a rule-bending, line-crossing boy who is in the same grade as Emil.

Nothing exciting happens to Emil. He is average in every way. His brother, Ethan, was the bright, shining star with all the friends, good grades, and a way with the ladies. Emil just lives in Ethan's shadow. He attends Caramoor Academy, a private school with a hefty tuition. Since everything has happened in his family, Emil's grades have started to slip and his father is riding him harder than ever to make the grade; especially since he is paying so much for him to go to school at Caramoor.

Emil does have the key though -- the key to notoriety, the key to exploration, the key to discovery. One day before Ethan left home, Emil was digging around in his bedroom and found an actual key. When he asked Ethan what the key unlocked he received a surprising answer: the key was a master key to the entire Caramoor Academy campus. Every door in every building was available to the person who held the key. Emil asked if he could have it and unbelievably, Ethan said yes. Normally the key was passed from one student to another each year. No one except the key holder was supposed to know who had it. The goal of the year was to pull off a monumental prank.

Emil's chance at greatness comes when his father has to go out of town for a long business trip and he has four days and nights home alone. He decides to use his time exploring Caramoor Academy. He sets up a makeshift bed in the attic of the main building and proceeds to unlock every door he can find. One evening during his exploration, Emil sees the art studio lit up and hears music blaring from the room. He finds a girl inside spinning a clay pot. He is shocked and doesn't give her his real name because he doesn't want to get caught, but he also wants to find out what she is doing there. After some conversation, he realizes she is the daughter of the art teacher at the Academy.

Over the next several days Emil and Jade, the girl in the art studio, form a relationship that leads them to many discoveries about themselves, about the death of Emil's mother and Ethan's role in it, and the importance of friendship. Eireann Corrigan has written a complex novel with true-to-life young adult characters that grow throughout the course of the story. Definitely for older teens, this novel covers topics such as grief, loss, family, and discovery with compassion and humor.