When Astrid Jones was nine, her family bought the house her grandmother grew up in. In a small town called Unity Valley, it was originally intended as...moreWhen Astrid Jones was nine, her family bought the house her grandmother grew up in. In a small town called Unity Valley, it was originally intended as a vacation home for the family, but a year later, they left New York City, which Astrid and her sister Ellis thought of as home, and moved there.
Ellis seemed to adapt to her new life, but Astrid just couldn't. Even seven years later as a high school senior, Astrid feels like an outsider. Sure, she's editor of the school lit magazine, but she has no social life. Her best friend Kristina is a "townie", and a shoo-in for homecoming queen, with her boyfriend Justin a lock for king. Astrid had a boyfriend for a short while in her junior year, but it didn't last very long. Her favorite pastime is lying on top of the picnic table in the back yard and watching the planes go overhead.
Astrid works for a small catering business prepping food. Her co-worker Dee makes no secret of the fact that she's attracted to Astrid, but Astrid doesn't know what to make of it. Sure she's flattered that Dee thinks she's gorgeous, but she's not gay. Is she? Does it matter?
This is an amazing, touching, heart-wrenching story about a young woman struggling to establish an identity and be true to herself in a society that cares more about appearances than truth.
Teens should read this book to help them realize that it's okay not to have all the answers.
If I could, I'd give this book to all parents of teens, in the hopes that they might understand what it means when they tell their kids to be honest with them. (If I could, I'd go back in time and give it to my own parents...) (less)
In the land of Mitlery, almost everyone is able to do magic. They use magic to perform everyday tasks like putting away clothes and planting seeds.
Exc...moreIn the land of Mitlery, almost everyone is able to do magic. They use magic to perform everyday tasks like putting away clothes and planting seeds.
Except for Noni. No matter how hard she tries, she just cannot cast a spell. But she can do something that other people can't: decipher black marks on the page of a book. She calls it "kenning", but her mother also referred to it as the "Old Knowing".
But after a strange caravan comes to the village of Windrow, everyone's magic is gone, except for that of Noni's friend Twig, who always carries an amulet in his pocket. No one is able to do anything, because they've relied on magic to do the most mundane of tasks.
But Old Winesap, a village elder, remembers the Old Knowing, and tells Noni that she must find the Book of Spells, which will show her how to get the magic back. Noni is hesitant, but when they learn that all of the surrounding villages have also lost their magic, she realizes that she must, indeed, do this.
She's afraid to go alone, and no one wants to go with her, because they feel lost without their magic. Except for Twig, who simply takes his friend by the arm and leads her away from the village.
Their journey is long, and their adventures are many. Not knowing whom to trust, Noni is suspicious of everyone and worries because Twig is not.
Meanwhile, the magic thieves are also searching for the Book, but not only do Noni and Twig have to find it first, they have to avoid the dragons that are terrorizing the country.
Lizzie Ross's debut is terrific. The reader is quickly drawn into the tale and is soon accompanying the young people on their quest. Noni and Twig are well-drawn characters, and even the dragons have personalities.
The ending allows for the continuation of the story, which I await with eagerness. (less)