At just 16, Sasha, a CIA agent formerly with the FBI, employs her unique skill in this absorbing YA political espionage thriller.
Sasha was born with a remarkable gift—or curse, depending on one’s perspective. People can’t help but speak their thoughts when in her presence, and a simple question from her lips can make suspects spill the truth. After bouncing as a child from one foster home to another, Sasha finds some security with Chelsea Tanner, an FBI agent who’s both her professional partner and guardian. Sasha is crushed when, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she’s forced to leave Chelsea and the United States to go to Brussels to infiltrate an international graffiti terrorist group. Residing with CIA agent Porter Jennings, Sasha becomes friends with his teenage daughter, Viviane. Later, she’s surprised when Viviane leads her into the lap of her quarry, Kid Aert. As Sasha deals with the novelties of friendship and romance—and above all, acceptance—she’s forced to choose between loyalty to her new friends and the job she has been sent to do. Sasha’s tough exterior doesn’t fully mask her vulnerability, probably due to too many years of being labeled a “freak” by her peers and foster parents. Gray (Suddenly You, 2013, etc.), who also authored the Jane Austen Academy series as well as the Gentlemen Next Door series, doesn’t go to the dystopian lengths that have become commonplace in YA literature, nor does she rely on clichéd paranormal elements, other than Sasha’s “gift.” Indeed, the story is refreshing for its normalcy, recalling 1970s political espionage novels. Even Sasha’s prey possesses noble rationalizations, adding to her moral quandary. While Sasha achieves some personal and professional closure, the fate of her romance is left unresolved, hopefully to be continued in the series’ next entry.
A commendable YA novel with thriller, romance and coming-of-age elements in one neat package.