An eighth-grade empath and her powered friends are confronted with a new friend who might reveal their secret.
Bubbly, blonde Parker can taste the feelings of people around her. Because the pain and misery of others make Parker suffer, she’s become a cheery little busybody, dedicating herself to the emotional labor of cheering up all of her classmates. Her three closest friends, children born from the same discredited fertility experiment as Parker, also have secret powers: Avery is precognitive, Deshawn has superhearing, and Ethan is telekinetic. When new-student Mia arrives in their school, Parker’s overwhelmed by her crushing misery, but surely Parker can cheer her new friend up. In fact, she’s going to have to: Avery’s had a vision that Mia will have a meltdown at the Halloween dance, and it’ll endanger Parker and her friends. But Mia has her own secrets: a mysterious blond ex, artwork she won’t discuss, and guilt over her dead mother. Meanwhile Parker discovers new powers that might help her with Mia—or might bring all of their secrets tumbling down. The cast is fairly diverse; Parker and Avery present white, naming convention will lead readers to believe Deshawn is black and Mia Latinx, while handsome Ethan’s seemingly biracial, Korean/white. The story feels like a blend of Willo Davis Roberts’ nerdy-psychic classic The Girl with the Silver Eyes (1980) and the Stephen King novel Carrie (1980). Despite those antecedents, Bearce’s tendency to tell instead of show, dropped plot threads (including an entire mystery antagonist), and thin characterization make this outing a chore.
Skip. (Fantasy. 11-13)