Thursday, August 6, 2015
A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou -- ESSENTIAL
A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic weaves together the stories of Kai and Leila, strangers who are outcasts in their own lives. Kai is visiting her eccentric great-aunt in Texas, while Leila is staying with relatives in Pakistan, when both girls discover identical copies of a magical book. The book seems blank, but as the summer progresses, an unseen hand adds lines to the tale a little at a time, revealing a story that will pull Kai and Leila together in ways they never could have imagined.
This is a wonderful example of magical realism. The magic itself is enchanting, and the writing is so gorgeous in places that I found myself highlighting many descriptions as I read so I could go back and enjoy them again later. Leila and Kai are both wonderful protagonists, real and vulnerable and strong in ways they never could have imagined. I found Leila's life in Pakistan particularly entrancing, since it brought that area to life for me in a way no story has done before. And, finally, without giving any spoilers, I will say that I completely adored the ending; I think I would read the entire book all over again just to repeat the sweet, magical feel evoked by the last chapters.
EL (4-6), MS -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn