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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Melissa and Kasho by Camilla Chance is the story of one girl's journey as she searches to find her own path. Melissa has certain expectations placed upon her by her parents who expect her to walk a certain path and to uphold her social class. Her peers also expect her to behave the way they think she should, which is based on their opinions over her actions. Then she gets a new room that's supposedly visited by a ghost. On her first night, she meets the ghost, the surprisingly human Kasho who opens her eyes and her mind to new ideas by introducing ways for her to embrace her own identity.
The story is set in 1958 so Camilla Chance centers the plot on the ideals of that time with several topics that were considered taboo to talk about among others woven throughout Melissa's experiences. Chance focuses on themes of sexuality, gender, and social dynamics which are woven into Melissa's journey as she works to find her place at a boarding school and in the world. The various topics covered are serious and directly related to teen life transcending time regardless of the period it is set in. The views placed upon Melissa by her home life and by society push her to find her own voice above what everyone else is expecting. Chance uses these views to show how one person can stand on their own ground and be who they are, regardless of class or gender or the role they should be playing. These various elements of the story work together as part of Melissa's self-discovery and each lends a factor to how she eventually finds her own voice.
The way of speaking is one of philosophy which is used to open up Melissa's mind and help guide her toward bettering her life. This philosophical viewpoint sets the tone for the whole story as Chance uses language in a specific way to open up the mind and explore new understandings about society and dynamics. Melissa's journey is used to explore a lesson in bettering your life which can be used as inspiration for everyone to realize that even in their darker moments they can find the light. Melissa and Kasho is a thought-provoking, eye-opening, and emotional coming of age story with a philosophical approach to various themes of class, sexuality, and gender.