Eighth grader Maggie McConnell is still grieving the loss of her father to cancer. The budding artist is agonizing over a project that will get her into the prestigious Peabody Academy; it was a promise she made to her father and herself. When she discovers a an old coat at her local thrift store, she’s drawn to it and buys it on the spot. Immediately, she begins having hallucinations about starving, burning chimneys, cruel voices and beatings, and terrifying dogs waiting to attack. She sees visions of a girl wearing the coat and reminding her of a promise made to a girl named Gittel. Turning to her friend Taj for help, the two try to unravel the source of the haunting. Meanwhile, Maggie is at odds with her popularity-obsessed sister, Patty, who doesn’t agree with Maggie’s choice in clothing or friends. As Maggie works toward the heart of the mystery, she discovers that Mrs. Berk, an elderly resident at a nursing home where Maggie teaches art, plays a key role.
A Promise Stitched in Time has an interesting main story that gets lost in its attempt to create a paranormal story. Having a coat haunted by a spirit of its former owner – a girl who died at Auschwitz – is an interesting concept on its own. Maggie’s father’s story seems to be more of a plot device that gets in the way, and the story’s resolution felt rushed, overcrowded in an already full narrative. It starts off strong, but ultimately left me wanting more.