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Powers by Deborah Lynn Jacobs
Review by Carolyn Frank
Roaring Brook Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 1596431121
Date: 05 September, 2006 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Told alternatively from each person's viewpoint, their use and misuse of each other makes for a compelling read. Both Gwen and Adrain are three-dimensional characters, capable of creating joy, inflicting hurt and the myriad of emotions in between. As high school students they interact mostly with other students, their parents and in Gwen's case, the editor of the local newspaper.

The issue with their powers is that the powers spring to full life without any particular instigation other than their meeting. A slight intimation is made that Gwen's mother shares her power to some degree and Adrian's father his. But do others? And why the two of them specifically? This book leaves any such questions unresolved.

Although this book is listed as a fantasy due to the psychic powers being employed, it really describes a fantasy world: who has ever met a high school student without a quasi-permanent attachment to a phone? Even before cell phones, every high school student for the past forty years has spent nearly every free minute on the phone – which does not seem to even exist in this universe. The time is nominally the present, but even if this setting is pre-Internet, no student spends any significant time watching TV, that is way too unreal.

Set in a small town somewhere in a very cold, very snowy part of central Canada, the story makes effective use of the environment. Gwen's newspaper stories feature accidents on icy roads, arson in the snow, and other such occurrences that could only happen in that milieu.

Nominally geared to a high school reading audience, this book is far more suited for middle school students. The little bit of sex is overtly safe sex, the boy-girl connection is almost quaint, and the denouement is clearly a morality tale. However the writing is masterful and compels the reader to read on straight through to the end.

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