The title of the novel is ‘A Ghost in my Suitcase’ by Gabrielle Wang. The setting of the story is in China, a long way away from where the main character Celeste lives in Australia. The two main themes in the novel are Celeste’s sense of belonging and her family’s tradition of ghost-hunting. Celeste met many people during her travels in China and she learnt more about herself and who she really is from the people she encountered. Celeste learnt that for generations, her family have been ghost-hunters and that was what inspired her to be brave throughout her daring, adventurous journey.
Celeste also discovered that you have to be smart and cunning to survive on your own and that you should never judge a person – or a book – by their cover. Celeste learnt that not everyone is as they appear. They can have deep, dark secrets hidden behind large, unopened doors. Celeste said “Learn what Por Por?” “To be a ghost-hunter” Por Por replied, “To be a ghost-hunter?!” I say shocked. “Yes. It’s what our family has been doing for generations” Por Por said – page 67 and 68. She learnt how people can appear to be totally different than what you think and even have skills they thought they never possessed.
When Celeste was in China, she learnt to forgive Ting Ting for her rude behavior after she apologized. Celeste thought to herself ‘ I see Ting Ting squatting in the corner looking inside the drawer of a large cabinet. She spins around. When she sees me, her face blows up red and angry “What are you doing here?” she yells, getting up and rushing towards me. She pushes me hard and I fall out the doorway and onto the floor.’ – page 29. Later in the story, Ting Ting said, “I was thinking, we have a lot in common, you and me. You lost your mother. I lost my parents. We have the same por por and we are both ghost-hunters.
We could almost be sisters.” – page 167. Celeste learnt that when people apologize for what they did, and truly mean it, then you can forgive them and mend friendships and relationships together. When Celeste was in Bao Mansion, she learnt that in frightening or scary situations, you have to be brave. She had to stand up for herself and face the evil ghost of Shen Dai Pa. Celeste thought to herself ‘I feel so helpless. But then I remember something I still have my ghost song. Nobody can take that away from me.’ – page 156. She learnt to be brave from situations like this and she can use her skills in the future.
Celeste learnt from passed events and others that life is not always fair. Celeste learnt that people abandon you when her mother died. People close to you pass away, almost without notice, so unexpectedly and that plays a major impact on your life. It leaves you so sad and depressed. She thought sorrowfully to herself ‘ Before Mama died I felt as if I could wrap up the day and put it in my pocket and know exactly what it was going to be like the next morning.
But now I feel trapped, as if I’m in a giant spider web’ – page 2. When people leave you, it can often be hard to get your head around it; things that you can normally do with ease become hard, you get distracted, you can’t think straight and I know for a fact that anything that triggers a thought or memory could make you burst out crying.
Celeste learnt many things about herself throughout her journey and the reason for this is that she travelled with her family to new places and got to know people better. The main knowledge that she gained from her trip is that sometimes you need to forgive, life is not always fair, you have to be brave and that not everyone is as they seem. In circumstances, you have to be brave, even if it means facing your worst fears and overcoming them.