A GIFT OF MAGIC by Lois Duncan

A GIFT OF MAGIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nancy, 12, has the gift of magic -- extrasensory perception; Kirby, 13, has the gift of dance, around which her present and future revolve exclusively. Even the divorce hardly fazes her, although she's good for a moment's wise reflection -- ""Maybe Mother needs to be herself more than she needs to be Mrs. Richard Garrett."" Kirby's logic can't relieve Nancy's bitter hurt, however, or dispel her desperate hopes for reconciliation; their mother simply wasn't made to be the rootless wife of a foreign correspondent, and Dad could never live in the oceanside Florida house to which Mom has just brought them. Grandmother Burke had knowingly left it to her -- ""'there will come a time. . .'"" says the dying woman in the Prologue, who is she; the children's gifts too are her legacy/prophecy, only for Nancy the blessing is part curse. Nancy's uncanny knowledge has always seemed to be some kind of idiosyncrasy until school guidance counselor Tom Duncan, Mother's now ubiquitous childhood sweetheart, recognizes a manifestation of ESP in what a teacher calls cheating: on researching the subject Nancy grows unnerved about the prospect of becoming a guinea pig; she will not use her gift. . . but she'll shortly abuse it, so that the Ballet South won't take her sister away. Nancy makes Kirby fall and damage a critical dance nerve. Instead of finding new things to live for, Kirby dies inside; Nancy's guilt is not diminished by her being able to rescue her nine-year-old brother from drowning (she 'hears' Brendon pleading for help), and she doesn't confess till the doctor reports that the nerve will grow back -- Kirby will dance again. Tom Duncan, who in Nancy's eyes represents a threat to the possibility that her parents will reunite, sets her straight about a lot of things after she learns of Dad's marriage to an adventuresome fellow correspondent: Kirby fell because she fainted -- Nancy's powers aren't that great (""'Your problem is that you are a born manager of the people around you'""); scientists can't experiment on her unless she volunteers herself. . . ""and so they lived happily ever after,"" comments the Epilogue. Duncan marries Mrs. Garrett and they have a daughter, it continues: ""Her name was Lois and she was born with the gift of storytelling."" Well, notwithstanding her extravagances and her compulsion to give each child (Brendon included, extraneously) equal time, Lois -- whose gift is a bit more modest than she is -- has made the most of it here. Readily receivable.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1971
ISBN: 0440228476
Publisher: Little, Brown