The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein.
This YA book is a ghost story, and it's fairly spooky.
But it's also a self-realization story, and a very good one, at that.
The town of North Chester has an unhappy history. In 1958, there was a bus accident at the edge of town, and 41 people were killed, including the bus driver, the driver of the car that hit the bus, and a local policeman.
The only bus passenger who survived the accident was Mary O'Claire, who is now in a nursing home in North Chester, and is looked after by her grandson Billy, a plumber.
Gerda Spratling is the last survivor of the family whose business, Spratling Clockworks Factory, supported the town in its infancy.
Zack Jennings is 11 years old. His mother died of cancer, for which she blamed him. She said she had to smoke so she wouldn't have to think about what a rotten kid he was.
We meet him just before the wedding of his father, George, to children's book author Judy Magruder. After the wedding and family honeymoon, they move to the small Connecticut town where George grew up. That's right, North Chester.
Zack meets a boy his own age named Davy, and they become good friends. Zack has never really had a close friend before; he always felt he didn't deserve one. Davy, though, keeps complaining about a shrine old Miss Spratling built around a large oak tree in the Jennings' back yard, and tries to convince Zack to destroy it.
Judy encounters Miss Spratling paying a visit to her descanso, becomes intrigued by the story and begins to research it. George Jennings goes away on business.
The 50th anniversary of the bus accident approaches, and all the elements are in place for something big to happen.
Chris Grabenstein was kind enough to send me this book ages ago. I read the first chapter and set it aside, because seemed too scary that evening. I came across it again recently, decided to give it another try (a sunny afternoon helped), and finished it in a couple of hours.
My apologies to Chris for taking so long to read and comment on his very fine book!