Thirteen-year-old Raine moves from town to town, escaping her mom's heartbreaks. Transitions are challenging for Raine, who has an embarrassing paranormal habit of reading "sparkle" memories from inanimate objects. Kids have mocked Raine for how she reaches for things and fondles them, without realizing that she has magical powers. Only her single mom knows of her secret talent. Raine's deceased grandmother shared this paranormal trait.
At her new middle school in upstate New York, Raine is determined to act normal and to fit in, but she can't resist a mystery. Prior to Raine's arrival, unpopular Emily Huvar vanished without a visible trace. Only Raine can read the paranormal clues which point to the school's queen bee and her buzzing clique of bullies. Creepier still? Before Emily disappeared, she lived in Raine's new home....
The Disappearance of Emily H. was written in an easy-to-read style and set at a typical school with an entertaining cast of kids. The mean girl was a bit too generic, but the other characters were well developed and multifaceted. I especially liked the inclusion of a formerly homeschooled girl and children from less advantaged backgrounds. For a paranormal book, it was surprisingly realistic but not too predictable. There were some unexpected plot twists. This well paced mystery was stacked with clues that will keep kids turning the pages to the scary climax.
Witty observations added humor to the dark mystery:
"Shirlee chats about Yielding. She's one of those people who can handle both sides of a conversation. Works for me."
"Like sunflowers turning toward the sun, everyone at the table suddenly tunes in to our conversation."Raine is a strong, likable protagonist, who makes a fine role model. The narrative includes a sweet romance, but brave Raine doesn't need help from boys to solve her mystery. Magic reveals clues without resolving the underlying problems. Raine turns instead to social media to teach the bullies an important lesson. The content is still innocent enough for elementary school children. I predict this magical mystery will be a big hit among young readers.
Well done, Barrie!
Reviewer's Disclaimer: upon my request, I received a free galley from Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. The author is a blog buddy. The book will be released on May 12, 2015 and is recommended for ages 10 and up. Raine is pronounced rain.
My review of I So Don't Do Spooky by Barrie Summy with an author interview.
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