A Cuban American psychic. Should be a recipe for a charming book. | Mentoring in the Middle

A Cuban American psychic. Should be a recipe for a charming book.

Have you ever had a book that your students loved but you just couldn't get into?  A couple of my students wanted me to read Enders Game.

I tried.

It just wasn't for me.  But they loved it, and I get why.

That's how I feel about this book.  I suspect many of my students would love it.  I wanted to.

Just didn't feel it.  But some of your kids might love it.  

Read on and see why.

The premise

I really wanted to like Totally Psychic. It had an unusual twist, with Paloma, the protagonist coming from a family of psychics, each of whom expresses their abilities in different ways. Her grandmother is a rock star in the psychic world, connecting celebrities to past relatives, and Pal0ma wants nothing more than to accompany her grandmother when she goes on her South American tour.

She's just beginning to understand her psychic powers which have to do with flowers. She sees flowers swirling around people's heads and based on the type of flower, they can mean different things. Paloma's gift is rare and hasn't been in the family for well over a hundred years, so she wants to train with her Abuela.

But now, her parents have decided to leave their close-knit Cuban American family in Florida and head to California. Paloma's more than unhappy about that, convinced that her mother is trying to get her away from the psychic world to concentrate on "real stuff."

On the first day in her new school, she realizes there are ghosts who wander the halls. Happy with that, she begins to hold seances for fellow students, and unleashes a host of problems that she has to solve. Some of them have to do with who her friends are, others with too many ghosts who have gotten on the wrong side of their portal.

What I liked

I liked that Paloma comes from a close-knit family with lots of love, arguments, and food sharing. I liked that she struggles with friendships like most kids do, figuring out where she fits in. And I liked the psychic elements giving characters a chance to learn something about people who died.

What I didn't like

I thought the book was highly unrealistic. For example, on Paloma's first day of school, she manages to explore most of the building between two classes. Where I taught, you had 3 minutes to get to your next class. It sounds like she had 10-15.  And in middle school, that's a recipe for disaster! Also, she holds seances in the greenhouse and no one seems to be aware of it. This is with her friends videotaping everything she's doing, so we're talking 4-5 kids, and no adult ever notices them? Again, in middle school?

I also felt like it wasn't as well-written as I would have liked. By the time I was halfway through the book, reading it became a bit of a chore, rather than a welcome into this fun world. I know that's harsh, and perhaps middle-grade readers won't have problems with it, but I wanted to be charmed by it and I wasn't.

I want to thank Inkyard Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.  

  • Read my review of KyRose Takes a Leap here or Freewater here.

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