A teenage girl with psychic powers must deal with persecution and relationship issues in this coming-of-age YA paranormal novel.
Seventeen-year-old Jackie Turov is known at school as “Goth Girl” or “Virgin Queen,” the latter because she had a vision in church when she was 12, one that tragically came true, the former because she now dresses in goth style, trying to distance herself from the notoriety of that incident. The problem is Jackie’s prescience wasn’t a one-off. She picks up on emotions and cannot help “reading” any person or object she touches. Among her peers, she is a pariah—a freak. Even her father can’t cope with her strangeness. He divorced Jackie’s mother and moved away. Despite this, Jackie has found her place. She has good relationships with her mom and great-grandmother. She has a small but tight group of friends. But this is about to change. After a bad solar storm leaves the town rife with psychic energy, Trish, one of Jackie’s friends, calls a demon into the world to stir up negative emotions. Jackie’s best pal, Jason, wants to be more than friends. David, a young seminarian, tries to entice Jackie back to church. She is conflicted: Can she master her emotions, or will the shell she’s made for herself crack apart? In this series opener, Keltner (Obsession, 2013, etc.) writes simply but effectively in the third person, crafting characters from small details while striking a good balance between the story’s paranormal and personal threads. Jackie’s Russian background adds unobtrusive depth to her situation. The fact that neither she nor her mother speaks Russian—while her great-grandmother doesn’t converse in English—evokes an assimilation that contrasts with Jackie’s being made an outcast for nonethnic reasons. Jackie’s religious upbringing makes her shun her powers, and this question of self runs through all aspects of her life. In terms of romance, the interlocking love triangles (Jackie-Jason-Trish; Jason-Jackie-David) seem quite natural in their shifting patterns. The dialogue sits well. All told, Jackie’s story moves quickly and engagingly, and though the ending is perhaps a bit chaotic, teen readers will find much to like here.
A knotty and evocative search for identity.