Piper Walker might seem like a typical high school senior. She’s on the swim team, plays bass and sings in a band, has a cute boyfriend and a fun, supportive best friend. She also has a father whose grief over his wife’s death has turned him bitter and angry. Luckily, Esther, Piper’s elderly next-door neighbor, is always available for a cup of tea and a grandmotherly chat. On Piper’s 18th birthday, which falls on the vernal equinox, some very odd changes come over her: Apart from an outward transformation from pretty to strikingly beautiful, Piper begins to see other people’s auras, hear their whispers, and feel their emotions and internal motivations. She can harness light and energy and sense profound connections in the universe, and, to her delight, she can move with incredible speed and grace. When Piper sees Esther for the first time after her transformation, she finds that Esther isn’t exactly the frail, doddering old woman she appears to be. With help from Esther and a handful of similarly mystical characters, Piper will be tasked with restoring balance to the universe, the evolution of humanity at stake. Street’s plot-heavy tale promises a number of sequels; indeed, with the accumulation of characters, settings and magical occurrences, one book is insufficient to contain his imagination. While the writing is formulaic and overwrought at times, Street pushes the ordinary-teenager-discovers-secret-power genre to new heights. The addition of physics to the genre is welcome, although the conceit suffers under the weight of plot and pacing. Readers will need to get through nearly half the book before the action gets going, though some of the preliminary descriptions are lovely.
YA fans will enjoy this twist on a well-trodden genre.