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Fortune Kookie (Looking for Normal Book 2)

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Fortune Kookie (Looking for Normal Book 2)
"Jean Gill brings her magical storytelling skills to teens, to weave compelling and thought-provoking stories that will linger on in their minds well after the last page is read." Kristin Gleeson, author and children's librarian

Can dreams take over your life? Jamie's mother is hooked on fortune-tellers, and running the family into debt. To cure her, Jamie decides to investigate the psychic world, and to show that it is a rip-off, with the help of her best friend, Ryan.

Their research causes havoc in school and they are drawn deeper into the very world they are investigating. Jamie's dreams of walking a medieval battlefield are so vivid that she feels compelled to resolve a historical mystery that starts at Kidwelly Castle in South Wales, where Princess Gwenllian once lived.

Caught up in what seem to be supernatural events, Jamie doesn't know what to believe and is sleepwalking into danger. Will friendship be strong enough to bring her back into the real world?
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Well this was a surprise! Quite an unexpected turn of events in book 2. I read Left Out and loved it, so I eagerly awaited to read book 2 in the series. Mind you, even if you skipped book 1, you will have no problem reading this one.

The well-loved characters of Jamie and Ryan are back, along with a bunch of others - their families, friends and teachers. They have continued their development, and I relished the tiny nuances in character changes the author displayed. I was happy to see Kelly return, and little Sam's addition to the cast is wonderful. Sorry to say little about him here, but I hate spoilers in reviews. Let's just say he will put Ryan's empathy to the test and earn your sympathies.

This time the story starts off with Jamie involving Ryan in yet another one of her projects. This time it involves saving her mother from her addiction to fortune-tellers, psychics and horoscopes, which mum spends tons of money on and hides from the rest of the family.

Touching on very important issues of modern life, alienation, delusion, family secrets, fame searching, etc. the author could have just followed that storyline and her exquisite writing would have made it a great story. But she takes a risk and leads the story in quite a different direction, one twisting reality and magic, fact and fantasy, playing tricks with the characters and readers alike, which is a huge difference from book 1 in which the story revolves around their reality. I have to admit I hadn't expected that, but I actually could not put the book down once Jamie discovered the power of her subconscious, and Ryan's inquisitive nature led him into psychological experimenting with their friends. To put it briefly - keeping the story on the borderline between reality and fantasy is far from disappointing when Jean Gill wields the writing wand.

Jamie's confidence, instincts, intuition and strength will be tested in ways she could never have imagined, and yet - perhaps it is just the mind playing tricks on her, and us. When you set out to battle something and then find out that perhaps you yourself are part of it, it makes you question all your values, which is what happens to teenagers on a daily basis, even without the extra, paranormal challenges. As Ryan and Jamie search for a good career choice, it seems life finds it for them, just like the rest of us.

What I most admire is how the author weaves it all into a rich tapestry, leaving some to the interpretation (perhaps even to book 3?), and manages to logically connect issues such as young romance, hereditary faults and virtues, history, parental concerns, staleness in marriage, town traditions, tested friendships, science and magic, life, death and afterlife... and all this in a YA novel. Jean Gill makes you question, wonder, guess, feel, cheer for the characters. I want to know what Jamie plans to do next. I am interested in whether Ryan will manage to balance his intellectual side with his feelings. I wonder if Kelly and Gareth will remain together on their way to fame. And what of their parents, and Sam, and granny?

And on top of everything, was it all real;)? Shhhhh, no spoilers. Looking forward to book 3 and recommending this book to all teenagers, young adult readers, parents and educators, especially those with a flare for a bit of the paranormal in the normal.

This review was written for Readers Review Room and deserves a gold bookworm from this reader.
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