Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Five top books about surprisingly supernatural teens

Leah Schnelbach is a staff writer for the pop culture website Tor.com, a fiction editor for the literary journal No Tokens, a sci-fi & fantasy columnist for Lithub’s Book Marks site and a former associate prose editor for Fairy Tale Review. Her fiction appears in Joyland, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Madcap Review, The Boiler, Anamesa, and Lumina. Her criticism has appeared in Tin House Online, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, Speculative Fiction 2015, The Crooked Timber Symposium and Electric Literature.

At Tor.com she tagged five favorite books about surprisingly supernatural teens, including:
The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts

I read this at some point in the blur of elementary school, and the reason I include it is that it seems like an innocuous coming-of-age tale, shelved with other stories of prepubescent misfits, and its world is entirely realistic. Katie Welker lives in an apartment with her mom and step-boyfriend, her somewhat abusive grandmother just died, she’s still trying to adjust to her family’s new paradigm, and she doesn’t have any friends. But… she has silver eyes!!! Not just grey, or even gray, but silver. And, as becomes clear to the reader—a bit sooner than it does to the character—she’s telekinetic! And she can talk to animals, kinda! She’s comfortable with her ability, and uses it to turn pages while she’s reading and turn lights off without getting up, but it makes everyone else nervous. Noticing this, she sometimes uses it to frighten babysitters. But her gift also makes her lonely, until she learns that she was probably born telekinetic because her mom worked at a pharmaceutical factory, and there might be others like her. And then because this book was written in the ’80s, when children left home in the morning and didn’t return until they were hungry, she’s able to go out alone and find the others—and it turns out they do have powers. At which point the book takes a hard turn back into social realism as the kids team up not to fight supervillains, but to investigate the mundanely evil pharmaceutical company.

Which, I mean that’s a choice, I guess?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue