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A Fistful of Sky (LaZelle #1)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,378 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
Gypsum LaZelle is a misfit in a family of spellcasters-she possesses no magical ability whatsoever. Until the day when she becomes gravely ill, and discovers that her Transition has occurred at last, bestowing upon her a strange and frightening power.
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published November 5th 2002 by Ace Hardcover
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 06, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: book-club, 2005, 2002
I love just about everything I've read by Nina (and I've read all but her very earliest stories). This visit with the LaZelle family was really wanted. Having encountered the family a few times in short stories, the LaZelle clan is a nice change from the folks at Chapel Hollow and their extended clans.

I conned... er convinced my boss to read the book -- he didn't get the ending. I sent a copy to my sister in Texas and Mary, Shirley and Tyler all loved it-- in revenge for making fun of me for yea
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I enjoyed this, a cozy fantasy novel set in modern California. It reminded me a bit of Elfland, with its real-world though non-urban* setting and its focus on a close-knit and eccentric family with hidden magical powers – though A Fistful of Sky lacks the romance and melodrama of Elfland, as well as Elfland’s ethereal qualities. There’s lots of magic in this book, but it’s grounded in mundane reality.

Gypsum LaZelle is 20, but she still lives in her parents’ mansion, along with three of her four
Nov 26, 2007 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a three month dry spell, I finally blew through this great modern day fantasy. Both funny and complicated, it was a wonderful tale of a family coming into “transitions” and understanding and controlling their given talents.
Oct 21, 2013 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've spent a good deal of time trying to come to terms with the feelings I have for this book. On the one hand, I find the characterizations intriguing and off-putting by turns and the entire idea of the story to be very, very interesting. But that's all I enjoy from this book. The idea and the concept.

A Fistful of Sky is about a young woman long resigned to her fate as the "normal" child of a magical family (aside from her normal father), but this is all turned upside down after her twentieth
My first book of the year is part of my attempt to clear my shelves or at least try to remember why I kept certain books from long ago. I am pretty sure I read this in high school but I couldn't remember much about it or why I had liked it enough to keep it. It turned out to be a fun quick and rather interesting read. At almost 15 years old, this book is not new by any sense but it does still break a lot of general stereotypes and doesn’t fit easily into many predefined genres/subjects. For one ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
May 26, 2008 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women fantasy fans
Set in contemporary California, Gypsum comes into the magical heritage of her family very late, and it comes with a real wallup. She must use the magic, or it will kill her, but it's "curse" magic, so she must find a way to channel it safely.
Gypsy is a very appealing heroine, and her solution to her situation is unusual. Anyone who's struggled with becoming themselves will relate to Gypsy.
Nov 05, 2007 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of paranormal fiction
Throughout this entire book, I felt compelled to keep reading, continuously waiting for that big "thing" to happen. It never did. And yet I still enjoyed the read. The ending was a little flat. But it wasn't so bad that I regretted the time spent reading the book. A very interesting writer. I may have to read more by her just to see if all of her books are the same.
Feb 27, 2008 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just re-read this book and I was again struck by Hoffman's description and character building. I love all of her books, but this one is one of my favorites.
Rachel Neumeier
Aug 24, 2011 Rachel Neumeier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I only discovered Hoffman this year -- this book was the first of hers that I read. It was so good I immediately bought everything else by Hoffman I could find! One of Hoffman's strengths is her writing, which is often beautiful.

I have to say, Hoffman is uneven. I found some of her books mediocre, and at least one pushed all the wrong buttons for me and I barely finished it. But this one is wonderful!

Although the main character, Gypsum, is in her 20s, A FISTFUL OF SKY reads like a YA novel. It'
Oct 28, 2011 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Garden Spells
Shelves: fantasy, 2011
Gypsum is the middle child in a family gifted with strange abilities. The story follows a plot arc that's rather similar to Savvy; the magic feels a lot like Garden Spells. Gypsum's gift comes to her quite a bit later than the rest of her siblings. When it arrives, it's a doozy, and it's not what she'd hoped for. Again, in this it's rather like Savvy, although written for a much older audience. The story centers around how she comes to terms with her gift.

A lot of reviewers bemoan the lack of ch
Aug 02, 2007 Krissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading a lot of YA lately, on recommendation usually from Shana. Fistful has this really well-integrated world of a magic-practicing family living in this reality, in California. There's our narrator who's, in Potter speak, is a squib. The story of her unexpected late blossoming into a magic wielder has some beautifully funny moments, especially how the family operates totally differently from any normal family group.

The action takes place over less than a week and in that way can fe
Diane Wilkes
Jul 07, 2011 Diane Wilkes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book...until the end, which seemed odd to me unless it was supposed to be the first of a series, and while there is another related book, it doesn't focus on Gypsum, the "muggle" of a magical family. Her four siblings (all named after different stones--Jasper, Opal, Beryl and Flint) don't start out with magical powers, but transition in their teens.

Gypsum is the middle child, and suffers from many of the typical problems associated with that familial position. She is chubby and not
Eva Mitnick
A woman from a magically endowed family finally comes into her powers but discovers she has inherited "unkind"magic - the power (and actually the need) to curse. Because Gypsum must use her powers on a regular basis or literally go mad, she must figure out how to use and control them without doing too much harm. Like Hoffman's other books, this takes a quirky and creative approach to magic. Less characters (and more depth to them) would have helped me to become more immersed in the story, which ...more
Aug 10, 2007 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I somewhat liked this book but found it disturbing too. The Mother is a sort of a monster. She uses her powers to tie her children so close to her they can't even think of leaving home. The scene where she nearly kills her daughter trying to force her to lose weight and become 'acceptably' slim is horrifying. Then the family just moves on and never addresses why the hell the Mom did it and what it says about her as a person and can she be helped.
I also found the ending sort of petered out. If it
Jul 15, 2015 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful exploration of self, empathy, and family

Hoffman's novel falls more into the genre of magic realism than fantasy; grounded in the "real" world rather than some alternate reality but with fantastical elements that are accepted as normal. Gyp has grown up as normal in more ways than just being non-magical; she is unsure about her future, she is slightly body conscious, she retains some resentment over past events but is generally willing to see multiple perspectives. Overall, she's kind
Jun 22, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book it had that nice combination of being grounded in reality but with the magical otherness all around. It covered the complicated relationships between family members from childhood to adulthood and how those are amplified by the magic.

The story follow the Lazelle family who have a secret that magical powers run in their family. When a child reaches a certain age they go through "the transition" they get terribly sick but if they survive it they come out with magical pow
Gypsum appears to be the only non-magical child in her family--until her troublesome power comes upon her a few years past its predicted time. I wanted so badly to like A Fistful of Sky, and there's one aspect I love: interloper Altria, who has a dynamic, compelling magic and relationship with Gypsum.

The rest, I dislike. The first person narrative is so bland that I have a better concept of every supporting character than I do the protagonist. The magic is illogical and comic while the plot foc
Apr 16, 2015 Vorbis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite beautiful. It blends fantasy and normality together in a lovely way, which is my favourite kind of fantasy.

Gypsum is a girl in a family of magic users, who come into their powers during their teenage years. Gyp isn't coming into hers though. She's like her dad, a normal person in a family of spectacular. Her coping mechanisms and her path to learning to accept herself is a nice one.

And later in the book, the discussion of curses, wishes, nightmares - what all of them mean, ho
May 03, 2014 Lark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Weird little book.

Initially picked up the book because I was intrigued by the premise. A family with wish magic and the odd girl out.

But it's just really weird. We don't get a sense of the personalities of any of the characters, not even Gypsum. You can't really get a good picture of them or their motivations. Case in point, we don't really get to know Ian, the supposed love interest. We don't know anything about Altria except she just happens to help once in a while.

The whole book is essential
Feb 15, 2008 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nina weaves blessings/curses of magic into fantastical YA tales (and captivating book readings). I felt "girlish" again--tottering on progression then upheaval and back again; finally social and personal acceptance. Growing impatient with the disturbing and otherworldly company that Gypsum was often forced to keep, was only part of the total experience.
Jun 22, 2008 Madeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, american
If her other books are anything like this one, I think I may have found a new favorite author. This deals with the coming of age of late bloomer Gypsum, then add in that hers is a family of mages and the complications double. A really lovely story about finding and accepting yourself without having to change who you are.
Sarah Crawford
Feb 04, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gypsum is part of a magical family. When members get their magical powers, they are said to "transition." The powers can vary, and sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative. It looks like Gypsum is going to be without powers, though, until she ends up getting her abilities when she gets to be twenty.

It turns out she has the power to curse things, but the curses end up being sort of strange. She changes a rock into chalk; she and her siblings draw things which end up coming aliv
Mar 15, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-pre-12-07, own
I LOVE Hoffman! Gypsum LaZelle is a magicless daughter in a very powerful magical family. She believes she will never Transition -- that is, gain her powers -- until one weekend when the rest of her family is away, she falls ill... and awakens with the very powerful ability to curse other people and objects.
Jun 27, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon rereading, the magic is great, I could continue reading her magic descriptions forever. But the ending left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied. I guess I like my magic to come with a great big magical conclusion and that was missing in this book. Still, definatley worth reading and thinking about.
Dec 04, 2014 MonsterAteMy rated it really liked it
In a family of magic-wielders, Gypsum Lazelle is the only child who seems to have inherited her father's...normalness. She watches her siblings transition into their powers during adolescence and eventually comes to terms with the idea that she will never undergo such an event herself. And then she does. She transitions at the almost unheard of late age of twenty, and discovers that she has been gifted with the dark power of curses. How she handles this is a lot of fun to read. Gyp herself is a ...more
I read this book a few years back but when it popped in my recommendation list I had to add & review. I enjoyed the majority of this book, the description is well done & sucks you in, the characters are intriguing, and the concept of magic in this world is interesting and made me wish it was explored more. The main problem I've always had with this book is the ending. It's anti-climatic and feels almost too easy. Also, the issues of the main character's family aren't fully dealt with. Al ...more
Lee Ann Horner
May 31, 2016 Lee Ann Horner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so pleased that I took the time to go back and read this-having already read the 2nd book in the series.
All about a special family who come into special powers around about puberty it was a fascinating mixture of different personalities within a family with all their strengths and fears.
The main character Gypsum who comes into her power late, only to find that it is not what everyone would hope for was well portrayed and I really enjoyed her side kick Altria.
I could not put this one down a
Feb 07, 2015 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read the other Hoffman works which have garnered such acclaim.

My take: it was okay. There's a lot of time spent on the lead character's process, much less on the world she lives in. On the one hand, the suburban family dynamic is charming in it's own way, yet the true meaning of this families' magic, their role in the world and so on is submerged in the practical mechanics of the lead character idea of her own identity intersecting with her magical nature. You continually wait for the
Jan 20, 2008 Clarice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-home
This is a re-read but since I'm reading all the Chapel Hollow books (and this is veeery similar) I felt that I should re-read this one too.
Mar 07, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title has just about nothing to do with the book. It's one of those books that you don't want to have end...
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Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s first solo novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones (1993), won the Bram Stoker Award for first novel; her second novel, The Silent Strength of Stones (1995) was a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. A Red Heart of Memories (1999, part of her “Matt Black” series), nominated for a World Fantasy Award, was followed by sequel Past the Size of Dreaming in 2001. Much o ...more
More about Nina Kiriki Hoffman...

Other Books in the Series

LaZelle (2 books)
  • Fall of Light (LaZelle, #2)

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“They open their wings, flash patterns and color, fly from flower toflower. I, with the dark brittles and many feet of the former form, inchalong the ground.
Sometimes all I want is two armfuls of air, a fistful of sky.”
“They open their wings,
flash patterns and colors,
fly from flower to flower.
I, with the dark bristles and many feet
of the former form,
inch along the ground.

Sometimes all I want
is two armfuls of air,
a fistful of sky.”
More quotes…