Gripping Read

A very good friend recommended I read When by Victoria Laurie when she had to read it for work. Kate works for Scholastic and she had to read it for a book talk she did. Most of the books she reads for work, I’m like, nope too young for me, but something about this book drew me in.

Maddie Flynn has a unique ability, she sees things. (And now my brain is going “She sees dead people”.) She sees numbers on the foreheads of everyone she meets (and even on their pictures.) These numbers are their death date. The book follows Maddie as she deals with a mystery (disappearing children) and suspicion that falls on her and her best friend “Stubby”.

Victoria Laurie weaves a believable world that is inhabited mostly by teenagers. Maddie is a wonderful storyteller who shows the reader the way through her life. She seems a reliable narrator, although you are stymied by the fact that you don’t know any more than she does.

This is not a happy story, as evidenced by Maddie’s ability, and the mystery. Most of the truly awful parts of the mystery are shown only through Maddie’s eyes, but you also see the effects of her mother’s drinking though Maddie’s eyes and how teenagers react to bullying and even how teachers react to a student who is very different. I found this difficult to read as a teacher myself.

Overall, despite the ending bringing me to tears, I really enjoyed this book. And I highly recommend it!