Six Feet Over It
by Jennifer Longo
Dark, witty, humorous, moving and at times quite sad. But you will never forget that memorable voice of Leigh. She is the star of this book and I love all that she brings. Even if it is death.
This is another surprising read of 2014 for me. Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo was a spare of the moment buy as I was perusing through Amazon. Okay don’t kill me but at times it’s so hard to support bookstores in my city. Although I do try my hardest every now and again. I promised myself that I would buy Heap House by Edward Carey over at Book People Store. It’s all the way in Texas. So I think I’m doing my part. I hope I’m doing my part.
Anyway, back to this amazing book by Jennifer Longo. Honestly, I’m happy I went with my gut and brought this. Usually my purchases consist of some Dystopian Series or overly hyped about book. But sometimes I get it right and buy that rare gem of a book like Six Feet Over It. Leigh is surrounded by death. Literally surrounded by death. She’s 14 years old and works at a graveyard selling headstones. All because her father is cheap and she pretty much has no choice. And did I mention that she lives at the graveyard. Yep, her house is just walk few steps away from the office door.
Her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table for employees
Lonely and painfully skinny, Leigh struggles throughout the book with the death of her best and only friend Emily. Sadly, Leigh thinks it’s her fault because she chose her sister Kai over Emily. I will not spoil the reason why. You just need to pick up this book and read it. Her job consist of taking care of the Pre-needs:the ones who already brought there graves ahead of time. And the At Need:the ones who are in shock and unprepared for the unexpected death that just occurred in their lives. Not the best job in the world and I don’t know if that is something that you want to put on your resume.
For the body you don’t go to the mortuary. A lot of people don’t know this. Kids at school don’t know this. They think bodies come to us. They also think we’re out here at dusk with a pickax and a kerosene lantern, digging graves with shovel, rotting, moonlit hands reaching from the upturned earth to us down with them. So dumb. Digging a grave really requires a backhoe, not just a shovel,….we never see the bodies, dead or undead…..It’s just a cemetery. We’re not living in the “Thriller” video.
Naturally, working in that environment at such a young age, Leigh builds up a wall. She lets no one in and doesn’t try to make herself seen. She has no time for new friends. Not when everyone she loves and gets close to seems to die. After all she is the patron saint of Death. At least that is what Dario calls her. Dario the much older grave digger from Mexico that is trying to make his life better as well as help Leigh move on from this fear that she doesn’t deserve happiness. To be happy. That it’s alright to let go and cry. To unburden yourself from all of the pain that you’ve been holding on to. The pain that makes you sick to the point that all you can stomach is York peppermint patties.
Slowly, but surely Leigh begins to free herself from the sadness. Trying her best to be friends with Elanor (Princess Leia) the girl that visit every week with her mother, delivering flowers for the cemetery. It’s a struggle. A struggle that is worth it in the end because it makes Leigh a better person. A better Patron Saint of Death.
Tonight, and for all the Days of the Dead, the Door is open. If you listen carefully, you can hear them whisper. Their wings tell you everything is okay. They’re not afraid. They’re with us. They’re not afraid. Your birthday is a gift….you chose an early arrival; it is your responsibility.
Even though this book deals with lost, death, breaking of child labor laws and the nauseating amount of York Patties eating within one sitting this is also a book about friendship, love and overcoming you fear in a dark and humorous way. Jennifer Longo did an amazing job with developing Leigh. She is quite the character with a voice that is hard to forget. This is a book you will reread and tell your friends about. Six Feet Over It. Go out and buy it, rent it, borrow it, steal it…..okay don’t steal but go and read this book. It’s a great read and you won’t be disappointed.