A contemporary story about family and friendship for fans of Eleanor Porter and L.M. Montgomery.
Harper Southwood is a teenage girl who can sense when people will get sick—but so what? She can’t predict her best friend’s depression or her mother’s impending health crisis. Being helpful is all Harper ever wanted, but she feels helpless in the face of real adversity. Now, she’s got a chance to summon her courage and use her wits to fight for justice. Laugh and cry along with this irrepressible, high-spirited teen in her journey of self-discovery, as she learns that compassion and internal strength are her real gifts, her true superpower.
Content warning: Child sexual abuse. The issue is dealt with in a constructive and hopeful way, but is still pretty grim.
This is a very charming YA novella, unlike anything I’ve ever read. It covers a multitude of issues that might affect teenagers and young adults, dealing with them in a thoughtful, original and creative way.
Harper, our quirky and well read main character, is trying to navigate her high school experience as painlessly as possible but is trying to juggle a number of more complicated issues within her family and friendship group.
What I particularly enjoyed in this book was Harper’s relationship with her family – it’s based completely on a degree of love and trust that we should all aspire to. She takes her parents for granted a little, but she’s a very realistic character who is struggling to find the right way to deal with impossible issues.
It did feel like a few too many issues were being crammed in to such a short book, near the end. I think the book should either have been a bit longer or had a few elements saved up for a sequel.
The author’s voice is distinctive and refreshing, she manages to be quirky without being quirky (annoying) and somehow manages to bring humour to some of the darkest subject matter without making light of it.
I think this is a helpful book for teenagers, it weaves in some practical information about police procedure when child abuse is reported as well as some insight into the beginnings of Multiple Sclerosis, which takes a lot of the mystery and fear out of such a huge diagnosis.
This novella would have found itself a spot on my bookshelf by the Jacqueline Wilson books back in the day, I highly recommend giving it a read!