Kaylee’s birth mother, Crystal, claimed telekinetic powers before she was convicted of murdering Kaylee’s little brother, Jack; 13 years later, Liana, a journalist revisiting the story for her podcast, wants to know if Kaylee’s inherited Crystal’s ability.
Kaylee’s suppressed her memories of her early years with Crystal, serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania penitentiary, but still dreams of Jack and suspects Crystal’s claims were valid and that she may have inherited them. Against her parents’ wishes, Kaylee agrees to be interviewed for the podcast if Liana will take her to see Crystal. As episodes go live, Kaylee becomes a celebrity at school and the swim club where she’s a lifeguard. She leverages her fame to attract a boy but takes friends (including Aiden, who wants to be more) for granted. Unsure of her powers, Kaylee still enjoys the attention—even when it’s more fear than popularity. Plot twists entertain, but the story’s weakened by its superficial, insensitive portrayal of adoption. The juxtaposition of Kaylee’s world of white suburban affluence, where everyone belongs to the swim club, and Crystal’s foreshortened world, from impoverished childhood to prison, is stark. Well-heeled characters seem indifferent to the less-privileged; Crystal, brutal and brutalized, is treated with contempt. Kaylee’s occasional reflections on her birth mother’s privations, seemingly intended to convey her empathy, are belied by her cruelty to Crystal.
A narrative deaf to adoption’s difficult complexities: the ties that may no longer bind but never disappear. (Fiction. 14-17)