Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Redman, Jess. Quintessence
July 28th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Alma and her family have moved to Four Points for her parents' work as real estate lawyers. She has always struggled to make friends and feel comfortable at school, but the moved has upended her so much that she has started to have increasingly common panic attacks. After the first one, she has hidden them from her parents, who are always trying to be helpful and encourage her to get out and try new things. When she gets a mysterious note, she discovers a Astronomy Club at school attended by only Shirin and Hugo, and also gets a "quintescope" from the oddly mystical Five Points Shop and the Shopkeeper, who gives her the mission "Find the Elements. Grow the Light. Save the Starling." Shirin and Hugo help her figure out how to go about doing this, and help her a little in dealing with school. Dustin, a dysfunctional but somewhat misunderstood bully, doesn't at first but is somewhat useful in the end. Will Alma be able to get the elements gathered in time to save the Starling, and will she also beableto handle middle school and manage her anxiety?
Strengths: This was on trend in the treatment of a tween with an anxiety disorder. The parents are fairly, although not entirely, aware of this, and both supportive. Near the end, they do suggest a therapist. Shirin and Hugo are good friends to Alma and help her with her quest, even though it is one that is hard to believe. The quest is well developed and aided by the magical ShopKeeper.
Weaknesses: This type of magical realism is a hard sell with my readers, who like their problem novels, but prefer their magic to be more fun.
What I really think: I revisited this because so many people enjoyed it, and I can see it being popular with an appreciative audience. Alma's story has an Ingrid Law, Wendy Mass, and Natalie Lloyd vibe as does this author's The Miraculous. This is also somewhat similarto Haydu's Eventown or Staniszewski's The Wonder of Wildflowers.
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Looks interesting. I'd love to check it out!