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A Fun and Emotional Middle Grade

My Review

5 Stars

With a fun Comedy format, this novel for middle graders is a family adventure great to buddy read with parents and kids.

First, everything goes wrong before they can go right. Starts silly and light but then has a more emotional and deep message towards the end. 

Moving across the country and starting in a new school can't be easy for all the members of the (Cuban) Ramírez family.

Especially when Ben is the only one to see the ghost of his Abuelo. This grandfather is no easy character to deal with. He doesn't listen. He is arrogant and thinks he knows it all, but forcing Benny to be the best trumpet player is not his unfinished business. Ben starts realizing he is making the same mistakes in life that his grandfather did, losing his friends and ignoring his family. Also, Ben's talent is not in music.

Very pertinent when nowadays adults must support their families with long hours of work, or older siblings lose contact with younger ones, because they are growing up and changing their interests. But it's important to know what the priorities are: health, family, happiness, helping, and understanding each other. It's very easy to grow apart, even living in the same house. 

I am glad I picked this one to read. It's like a movie or a fun play that starts chaotic and silly but wraps us in a warm family hug.

Promotes friendship and cooperation instead of stressing competition. 

@tbrbeyondtours & @josepabloiriarte 

Book Info:

Benny Ramirez and the Nearly Departed by Jose Pablo Iriarte

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Publishing Date: April 30, 2024



Benny Ramírez can see dead people . . . Well, one dead person, anyway.A hilarious and heartwarming story about a boy who can suddenly see the ghost of his famous musician grandfather!

After moving cross-country into his late grandfather’s Miami mansion, Benny discovers that the ghost of his famous trumpet-playing abuelo, the great Ignacio Ramírez, is still there . . . and isn’t too thrilled about it. He’s been barred from the afterlife, and no one can even see him except his grandson. But Benny’s got problems of his own. He’s enrolled in a performing arts school with his siblings, despite having no obvious talent.

Luckily, Abuelo believes they can help each other. Abuelo has until New Year’s Eve to right his many wrongs and thinks that teaching Benny to play the trumpet and how to become a school celebrity might be his ticket into heaven. Having no better ideas, Benny finds himself taking Abuelo’s advice—to disastrous and hilarious results.

Benny and Abuelo will find that there’s more than one way to be great in this unforgettable, laugh-out-loud tale of family, music, and self-discovery.


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About the Author:

José Pablo Iriarte is a Cuban-American writer and teacher who lives in Central Florida. Their fiction can be found in in magazines such as Uncanny, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and others, and has been reprinted in numerous Year’s Best anthologies. José’s novelette, “The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births,” was a Nebula Award Finalist for 2018.



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