Book Review: “Olivia Kidney Stops for No One” by Ellen Potter

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Olivia and her father have been kicked out of another Manhattan apartment building, thanks to her Dad’s level of skill as a building superintendent, best described as “hopeless.” It doesn’t take them long to find a new home. In fact, one finds them, when George Kidney gets an envelope full of $100 bills and an invitation to ply his trade at a brownstone on 84th Street.

The brownstone in question is a bizarre place, even from the perspective of a girl who can talk to ghosts. The bottom floor is completely flooded, so everyone has to navigate it by boat. Upstairs in her new bedroom, Olivia is greeted by an unsigned card from someone who seems to know a lot about her. The handsome playboy who runs the place receives a constant series of guests, who only show up at night and whose activities make mysterious and disturbing noises. And then one of the guests turns up dead in Central Park. Soon an old friend who shares Olivia’s psychic gifts comes to tell her that she’s there on a mission, and it’s a matter of life and death.

Compounding the mystery are many smaller, secondary adventures. Olivia takes another step in accepting the death of her older brother. For the first time in ages, she opens herself to the risky world of friendship, both with a cocky skateboarder and with a strange girl who attends the school for “superior children” next door. She helps bring together two lovers who have been separated by a lifetime of sorrow. Most importantly, however, she helps another lost soul find its way in a quirky, original adventure laced with spirit-world spookiness, laugh-out-loud humor, and weep-out-loud tenderness.

Happily, this book is by no means the end of the series; happily, I say, because it never resolves one nagging question about Olivia’s redoutable friend Frannie. How did she know that her sister was visiting Ansel by night? When you read the book, you’ll know what I mean.

This sequel to Olivia Kidney has also been published under the title Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy. There is also at least a third book in the series: Olivia Kidney Hot on the Trail, also known as Olivia Kidney and the Secret Beneath the City. Anyone with information on this series and its confusing array of alternate titles would be welcome to leave feedback.

Recommended Age: 11+