GENIUS GAMES by Narinder Dhami

GENIUS GAMES

Age Range: 10 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

An angst-ridden sixth-grader struggles with family feelings as his gifted little sister acquires an invisible, but possibly not imaginary, companion in this overwrought debut. Reading Hamlet and speaking fluent Spanish at five years old, Annie is a mystery to her fellow kindergartners, teachers, and brother Jack. She’s on her way to becoming even more of an outsider with the announcement that Sarah Slade, an invisible traveler from the 25th century, is her new best friend. Reckoning for some reason that no one has yet noticed Annie playing with, and chatting gaily to, thin air, Jack takes her to and from school under close escort; meanwhile, however, personal items belonging to those who have teased or angered her begin to disappear. Sarah’s work, Annie guiltily insists. Continually cycling between envy, anger, and guilt, Jack makes an ill-tempered, insensitive narrator who expresses his resentment at every turn while, confusingly, claiming that he has always concealed it, even from himself. The waters muddy further when the children’s father, who left years ago, gets back in touch; in a genuinely perfunctory resolution to that subplot, Jack allays Annie’s anxiety about what he’ll think of her by explaining that he’s no longer a significant member of the family. Readers are not likely to warm to these characters, nor, given the story’s patchy internal logic, come to understand them—and as Dhami coyly leaves the question of whether Sarah is real or not up in the air, even that minor satisfaction is denied. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7868-2528-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2001




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