An adornment becomes a burden when Caz is tricked into wearing a silver bracelet only to find that it cannot be removed. Suddenly, Caz herself changes, acquiring an ability to see into the inner thoughts and lives of those around her (she can tell when her mother is lying, or that her best friend secretly wants to talk about the abuse she endures at home). Though the woman who gave Caz the bracelet thought herself rid of a cursed object, Caz finds the insight into herself and others to be advantageous, and she is able to use this new gift in beneficial ways. Character development is key in this understated plot: although the mystery of the bracelet and its origins serves as an intriguing backdrop, Caz and her use of her new powers (and the various folks she helps, including the tortured woman who rid herself of the bracelet by forcing it on Caz) are the clear focus of the novel. This British import may therefore particularly draw readers branching out from realistic fiction, who will appreciate the protagonist's subtle growth and newfound maturity. Regardless of what brings readers here, however, the elegant pacing, creepy and intriguing premise, and unexpected twist at the climax will grab them and keep them guessing (both about the bracelet and Caz) through to the end.
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Joyce, Graham; The Exchange. Viking, 2008; [256p] ISBN 978-0-670-06207-2 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-9
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