© Zilpha Keatley Snyder, illustration © Tim Jessell.
Abby is a teenager who likes to stay grounded in reality. Unfortunately for her, she seems to have a psychic ability to learn things from inanimate objects, things about the people that owned or touched them. She hates the whole idea of this, and tries to keep it out of her life, keep things normal, but it doesn’t always work. For one thing, her mother is a private detective, and Abby can’t resist using her ability to help once in a while. When Abby’s best friend Paige finds out about Abby’s talent, she’s all for the two of them using it to solve crimes on their own. Abby resists that, but Paige is persistent, and before long the two of them are in all kinds of trouble.
This is the kind of story that Zilpha Snyder does very well: mostly a teenage coming of age story, but with an added element that might be fantasy, or not, depending on your point of view. Abby and Paige, their parents and friends all seem very real, and Abby’s inner turmoil is quite believable, even though at times as a reader you want to shake and and say, “get over it!”
The only thing I don’t like about this book is the cover, which to me seems to portray Abby as younger and ethnically different than she is in the book. The story takes place in California, and it was a while before I realized she wasn’t meant to be of Mexican or Hispanic background because of it. In fact, her ancestry seems to be Celtic, probably Irish. It’s a minor point, but it’s hard not to have certain expectations from seeing the way she’s portrayed on the cover. In any case, a good read, and recommended.