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UNDERNEATH by Sarah Jamila Stevenson


by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Age Range: 12 - 18

Pub Date: June 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7387-3596-2
Publisher: Flux

Like her name, Sunshine Pryce-Shah is a cultural hybrid with Pakistani and American hippie roots.

Sunny’s a strong swimmer occupying a slightly insecure niche among a small circle of friends old, like Spike, and new, like Cassie. During a race, Sunny hears an anguished voice and, disoriented, fails to finish. Hours later, she learns of her cousin Shiri’s suicide and receives her personal journal in the mail. Sunny turns to it for answers when she, too, starts to hear the thoughts of those around her. But Shiri’s no guide—unable to make peace with her ability, more torment than gift. It torments Sunny, too. Her old friends’ thoughts contradict their words and contain hurtful judgments, causing a rift, while new friends to whom she’s entrusted her secret want to use her, and it, for their own purposes. On the parental front, Shiri’s mother leaves her abusive husband to move in with Sunny’s family yet finds it hard to break free. There are no easy answers here. Friendships are challenging enough without hearing one another’s thoughts, but unless Sunny can accept and forgive what she’d rather not hear, she faces a lonely future.

This frustratingly slow-moving tale with more depth than breadth takes readers on a profound journey even if it ends not far from where it began. (Fiction. 12 & up)