When We Were Magic

S & S./Simon Pulse. Mar. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534432871.
Gr 9 Up–Alexis and her five best friends are just like any other seniors in high school, making the most of their last year together, hiding secret crushes, and worrying about what the future has in store. Oh, except that they all possess magical powers. And Alexis accidentally killed a boy on prom night. Bound together by friendship and a terrible mistake, the girls embark on a mission to right the wrong of Josh Harper’s death without getting caught or suffering the consequences of their spells that don’t quite work. While at first it is difficult to keep the large cast of characters straight, the distinct personalities and characteristics of the diverse group of friends shine as the story progresses. With authenticity and relatability, Gailey tackles difficult issues like police presence in schools, body image, the dangers of grown men who show too much interest in teen girls, and where one fits in the LGBTQ+ community. Alexis’s reliable, understanding dads are a refreshing change from many parent-free YA books. The story does not always go the way the girls, or the reader, may have liked, but it is a laugh-out-loud, exciting ride.
VERDICT Like the movie The Craft for a new generation, this novel is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering how it will all turn out. Offer to older teens looking for a darkly comedic coming-of-age story.

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