When strange, psychic experiences follow a nasty bang on the head in a bicycle accident, are they evidence of a welcome superpower or a frightening burden? Does it make a devoted music student who already feels like a misfit among his schoolmates even more unusual? So wonders Liam, the protagonist of this fast-paced young adult novel by Brian O’Dell and Beth Lauderdale.
A music student who loves to play his bass in the orchestra, where he “settled into the music like it was a favorite chair,” Liam is nominated for the Musicians Honors Performance Program. But his musical taste is not limited to classical, and when, still unsteady from his bicycle accident, he and his good friend Connor meet to listen to a vintage Duane Allman LP, strange things begin happening. Picking up the album cover, Liam is stunned by a vision of a girl in a blue tie-dye shirt who is weeping so hard that tears stream down her cheeks. “Is she hurt…scared…what?” Liam wonders. “And most of all, why am I the one seeing her?”
As more visions visit Liam, readers will find the protagonist relatable and nicely well-rounded. The son of a single mom, he takes his father’s new family in stride, just as he also accepts that one of his friends has two moms. He’s a good, if sometimes impatient, big brother to his sister Molly, the valued friend of Connor and Sarah. He uses his smarts to counteract bullies—a key challenge for him—and applies intelligence, action, and courage to understand his psychic powers.
The dialogue is as lively as the pace, and the friends’ ability to celebrate their differences from their peers—they call themselves the “Mud Street Misfits”— makes them cooler than they know. Each is likable, with different strengths to contribute.
As the action hurtles to a satisfying conclusion, readers find themselves attached to the characters—and eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series.
BlueInk Heads-Up: School and public librarians take note: This is a series to watch.