Scholastic. Jan. 2023. 224p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781338816037.
Gr 5 Up–Seventh grader Aly doesn’t like to make waves. As a middle child, she’s used to being overshadowed by her popular older sister Rachael and her sensitive younger brother Simon. This changes overnight when things around Aly mysteriously start catching fire, and she realizes she is the one causing them. When students and staff at school begin suspecting Aly is starting the fires on purpose, it is Rachael who comes to her aid by helping her control her feelings and the fire within her. Multiple plot twists reveal that almost everyone in Aly’s family has special powers. This work initially presents as realistic fiction, and it is fun to experience the fantastical elements of the novel as they unfold. Adult characters take a backseat, presumably because they will not believe some of the more fantastical elements, though it seems unlikely that Aly’s parents would be clueless about their own children. Only Uncle Marco is aware of the danger his family is in, and he declines to help out of fear of reactivating his own unwanted power. The riveting conclusion sets itself up for a sequel that readers will eagerly anticipate, when Aly does something wholly uncharacteristic that underscores all she’s learned about Rachael, setting into motion the events to come. Krovatin’s descriptive writing is stronger than his occasionally stilted dialogue. Aly’s family reads as white and affluent, with the siblings attending a private day school.
VERDICT This fast-paced novel will surprise and entertain young readers, who may also find school and family dynamics relatable.

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