One Jar of Magic
Rose is special - her father said so, over and over. And when she turns twelve and is allowed to go and capture magic on New Year's Day like the rest of the adult community, he expects her to catch the most magic of all. Some magic is just silly, but some is transformative and powerful. Rose's father has told her all the rules, and she is prepared for the magic to come to her naturally and easily. It never occurred to her that it wouldn't.
Most authors don't even attempt what Corey Ann Haydu does: she digs up uncomfortable things in families that people don't talk about, and she gives example after example of how the family isn't functioning, and somehow, she makes the pain sparkle. Just as with Eventown and Rules for Stealing Stars (but with different magical elements and different family issues), the plot is ostensibly about the magical feature, when really it is about the people and their relationships.
It's not a lighthearted read, but some readers will be so relieved to recognize they're not alone, even if all the other families seem normal and they think they need to pretend like theirs is, too. The issue with Rose's father isn't just named and discussed with school counselors - it's artfully illustrated in the discomfort of Rose's friends and her brother, and how everyone in a family can be complicit in pretending they agree with the loudest voice, even when they don't. And although the reader will know before Rose, she's not an ignorant, helpless victim, and he's not a villain she enjoys vanquishing - the relationship is complicated by good days and the courage to ask questions. Further, favoritism between siblings exists in so many families, yet it is rarely depicted with this kind of subtle accuracy.
I'd never pick this book up for laughs, but every time I read a book by this author, I'm still thinking about it days later.
"The lake is there, shining and blue, and all I know is I want to run away from Ginger and Maddy and their cabin and their plans and their stupid matching sneakers and the way they shrug at the things that matter to me."
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