“There are no coincidences.”
I was trying to read this book along with Amina’s Voice, but quickly realized it wasn’t working in my favor me because as Ron Swanson likes to say, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” So I decided to dedicate my sole attention on this tale, and it was beyond magical.
- We have a phenomenal first chapter from the pov of eleven-year-old Virgil Salinas with a supporting grandmother that tells of her dreams and stories!!
- We also have an incredible cast of diverse characters who won over my heart:
– Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous Filipino-American family.
– Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature.
– Kaori Tanaka, whose family is Japanese-American, is a self-proclaimed psychic with a little sister Gen as her second-in-command.
- Can we take a minute to talk about how Kaori is one of my favorite characters… I genuinely had the bouts of insta-love the minute this twelve-year-old that doesn’t sound like a twelve-year-old because, as she likes to say, “I’m the reincarnated spirit of a 65-year-old freedom fighter” was introduced!!
“Kaori was mildly surprised to get a text from one of her clients (her only client, truth be told) on the first day of summer, particularly at seven forty-five in the morning. But the night before, just as she was gliding to sleep, she’d had the vision of a hawk perched on a giant fence post. Only now she realized it must have been a vulture, not a hawk. And vulture started with V, just like Virgil’s name. The connection couldn’t have been clearer.”
This girl with “her powers of second sight” is something else…
- the humor is on point:
“Something will happen to you,” Kaori continued.
Virgil looked at Gen. She shrugged.
“That’s it?” said Virgil. “Something will happen to me?”
“I see darkness,” said Kaori.
“Your eyes are closed.”
Honestly, dare I say iconic… both for making me laugh out loud and for the subtle foreshadowing thrown in from the author (which I’d thought at first to be just her having a laugh). But circling back to the humor, these brilliantly vivid characters reminded me of the kids from Stranger Things being their best selves on TV!!
- And moving on to Virgil’s Lola – aka the best literary grandmother ever – she was a force of nature. I could always count on her old ghost stories and dreams to fully capture my spirit. Also, she’s just one hell of a supportive adult!!!
“Sorry, Lola,” Virgil muttered. “I was just thinking about something that happened on the last day of school.”
Lola tossed the garbage pizza in the cart. “What? What happen?” She was always ready to hear gossip, no matter where it came from.”
This is me. This is who I am.
- So as Kaori had foretold to Virgil – “What I mean is, I see you in a dark place.” “Dark how?” “Just dark.” – he’d gotten trapped at the bottom of an old well thanks to the worst of humans throwing Virgil’s backpack, which had Gulliver, his pet guinea pig, in it. Which is also when I noticed what the cover, though absolutely gorgeous, happens to spoil if you’d skipped reading the blurb.
- Oh, and circling back to the worst of humans, I have only one thing to say to the bully, Chet Bullens, whose family is probably full of Trump supporters…
- On a more positive note, there’s some magical realism aspects thrown in to further enchant my heart.
- And the story continues full of busy happenings that lead to friendship, kinship and family. In the end, I just ended up adoring this group of explorers. Plus, I really hope Tanaka and Somerset will go into business as promised. (Maybe we’ll even get a sequel/ novella on that idea…)
- And last but not last, I was as joyful as my girl Valencia from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend when the story ended on such sweet and hopeful note.