Subtitled A Supernatural Romance, I read this for the Random House Bingo Reading Challenge for 2014 mainly because what I read in advance said it was a book about magic. The write up neglected to say what a fine, creative piece of writing it was!
Laura is getting ready for school and daydreams of washing her hair and stepping out of the shower “not only marvellously beautiful but also transported to Paris.” Alas, she knew the truth was that “her hair would not dry int time for school, and she would spend half the morning with chilly ears. These were facts of everyday life, and being made in New Zealand (the shampoo she was using) was another. You couldn’t really think your way into being another person with a different morning ahead of you, or shampoo yourself into a beautiful city full of artists drinking ine and eating pancakes cooked in brandy.”
It was neither her mother Kate nor her little brother Jacko speaking.
“What’s going to happen” Laura asked before she realized that the voice had spoken inside her, not outside in the room.
Laura trie to tell her mother Kate about the warning but her mother is preoccupied with her parental responsibilities and the weight of the world, including the new battery she needs for the car. She tells Laura she cannot stay home because it is Thursday: “It’s late-night tonight, and who’d collect Jacko, take him home, give him his supper and read him a story? Not notes on Thursday and that’s final.” Her mother advises her to be careful, look both ways and stay out of sight of the teachers.
“Oh Mum, it just isn’t like that!” Laura protested. “It’s a warning about something serious. You don’t know what it’s like.”
“tell me later,” said Kate, but Laura knew she could not tell. It was a condition that could not be described. People had to have faith in her, and somehow this was asking too much of them, especially in the morning, when life ran in three different dirctions and only one of them was hers.”
In the car, Laura does try to explain to her mother by reminding her that another warning she had was when her Dad left with his girlfriend. “And then the next time it happened” had been “when Sorry Carlisle came to school.”
This where the bit about “a supernatural romance” begins. Sorensen Carlisle had come to Laura’s school, Gardendale Secondary School, a year and a half ago. He had been given by his mother for adoption by his mother who was unmarried. The adoption worked for awhile and then didn’t work anymore and Sorensen had made his way back home by himself at the age of sixteen. Sorenson was very studious, had a stammer, won prizes at science fairs and as a prefect at school. Laura had an unusual connection with him. She was only fourteen but whenever she had exchanged words with Sorensen she received a “remarkable smile accompanying his instruction(as a prefect) – a smile directed at her alone. Laura had never mentioned this smile to Kate or the reason for it.”
Kate dismisses any warnings about Sorensen Carlisle but does tell Laura that his mother and grandmother were “Quite a different story – witches to a man – a woman that is…They’ve got the sort of craziness that gives them class!”
They discuss Sorensen (Sorry to Laura) some more but Kate cannot credit what Laura has said and finishes up with “I’ve never understood your warnings – and be fair – until now you only mentioned them after something has happened, not before. But I do know this: I’m going to have to go because I’ll be late for work, and what if I arrive to find Mr. Bradley on the doorstep, fuming because I haven’t opened the shop in time? But Lolly, be careful with yourself, and later on be careful with Jacko…just in case.”
Laura gets out of the car at school and Kate and Jacko go on to Jacko’s babysitter and Kate’s job at the bookstore.
“The warning had come. She had ignored it. There was nothing more to be said.”
But there is oh so much more to the story. This is a great read for teens: in tone and vocabulary it is adult. The writing is rich. Here are some examples:
“It’s a good disguise. He looks very innocent, very arcadian…I think that’s the right expression.”
“Laura thought he looked an improbable cross between Dracula and Mr. Pickwick.”
“On the one side of a kiss was childhood, sunshine, innocence, toys and, on the other, people embracing, darkness, passion and the admittance of a person who, no matter how loved, must always have the quality of otherness, not only to her confidence, but somehow inside her sealing skin.”
“Laura and Sorensen looked at each other now, smiling but not in friendship. They smiled out of cunning, and a shared secret flicked from eye to eye. Laura walked past him in at the school gates, bravely turning right into the mouth of the day, right into its open jaws which she must enter despite all warnings.”
Warnings, romance and adventure! All here in a fine read for a teen (this adult found it quite refreshing)!