From Publishers Weekly
"It doesn't pay to be different. Not even a little bit." So concludes Bridget Raynes's best friend, Mitzie, after the two have made it through yet another demoralizing day of sophomore year. "Different" is something that Bridget has always beenAshe can move objects just by thinking about them, see the spirits of trees, even read other people's minds. But Bridget has worked hard to squelch her powers, to assure both herself and others that she's not different. Her aunt Cait, also marked by the family "gift," and Bridget's "threshold guardian", xiii (pronounced "shhh"), both try to convince her that by denying her powers, she is denying her true self. Bridget can't bring herself to believe them, even as her problems with the class bully and her wretch of a teacher mount. And when xiii and Cait tell her that by joining with the "Other Ones," the wicce or witches, she could help both her friend Jordan, who's been abandoned by his father, and the new girl in school, the mysterious and painfully different Althea, Bridget still resists. Uncharacteristically clumsy, Thesman (The Moonstones) hammers away at her "be true to yourself" theme so relentlessly and stacks the deck so obviously against any other perspective that readers are likely to grow impatient. Only the climax is truly compelling, in which the Jordan and Althea plot strands come together in an unexpected way. Unfortunately, many readers may not stay with the book long enough to experience it. Ages 10-14. (May)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7-9Although it is not immediately obvious, the main character of this odd novel is a witch. On the surface, Bridget is nothing more than an awkward misfit at her high school, an outsider with few friends. She is also one of the Other Ones, a circle of gentle, loving folk who possess great magical powers. The plot revolves around her struggle about whether to accept her true nature or be normal. She is watched over by a threshold guardian, a strange, cantankerous creature with an even stranger name, xiii, pronounced shhh. She also worries about her friend Jordan, who has been abandoned by his father, and a new girl at school who is taunted by her classmates and is, in fact, a shape-shifter who is really a falcon. As if all of this is not hard enough to swallow, the adults are strange as well. Bridgets Aunt Cait is a witch with two cats as familiars. Bridgets parents seem to care little for their daughter or her problems. Her English teacher and the class bully are irredeemably evil. There is excitement and suspense in the plot line, as Bridget must finally decide whether to use her powers for good or ill. However, while the story is well written, the characters remain black and white, with all of the Other Ones good and all of the other adults so reprehensible as to be unbelievable.Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Bridget struggles through the miseries of high-school life as best she can without resorting to her "special gifts," feeling that they will make her seem even more different than she already is. However, her guardian, a changeable fellow named Xiii (who sometimes appears as a frog, sometimes as a dragon or tiny boy), relentlessly needles her to use her powers to fend off the trouble that is coming for two of her friends. Using a light touch, Thesman blends the everyday details of life with elements of the supernatural, even providing a little romance. Bridget's best friend, Mitzie, is the only congenial nonmagical character in the midst of a cast too clearly divided between Wiccans and nasty, close-minded ordinary folk. Bridget herself, though, is likable and realistically depicted as she makes the sort of daily decisions teens make about classmates, teachers, and family. A swiftly moving plot, graceful writing, and humorous exchanges between Bridget and Xiii put this a notch above most fiction. Susan Dove Lempke
From Kirkus Reviews
In Thesman's latest story set in the Pacific Northwest, a child's stubborn efforts to suppress her witchly abilities nearly ends in tragedy. Bridget has tried hard since kindergarten to be ``normal,'' hiding the fact that she sees and hears things others cannot. Her Aunt Cait, another witch, begs her to accept her true nature, as does xiii (pronounced ``shhh''), her irascible supernatural guardian, who has also taken to uttering cryptic but increasingly urgent warnings. Thesman places her young protagonist squarely between two worlds: a nonmagical one filled with coldhearted, if not downright inimical, people, and another awhirl with spirits and wonders; as Bridget becomes violent classmate's newest victim, discovers that no one will take seriously her claim that a young neighbor has been abandoned, and learns that the odd new student Althea and her parents, werefalcons stricken with a private grief, are in danger, the pressure to intervene with magic reaches an agonizing level, released at last in a soaring climax. Once she gives in, Bridget discovers to her astonishment that she's no longer an outsider, but a welcomed new member of a loving Wiccan circle. Replete with intriguing conflicts, lightened by Bridget's wayward libido and humorously rude relationship with xiii, this tale is reminiscent of Patrice Kindl's Owl in Love (1993) for its strong casting and vivid storytelling. (Fiction. 11-15) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
About the Author
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Jean Thesman has written several award-winning novels for young adults, including:
The Rain Catchers -- ALA Best Book for Young Adults; School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; Booklist Editors' Choice; Golden Kite Award
Rachel Chance -- ALA Notable Book; ALA Best Book for Young Adults
The Last April Dancers -- ALA Best Book for Young Adults; ALA Quick Pick; IRA Children's and YA Choice; American Bookseller Pick of the Lists
When the Road Ends -- ALA Notable Book; ALA Best Book for Young Adults
and, most recently,
The Other Ones -- an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a barnesandnoble.com Top Ten Teen Novel of 1999, an International Honor Book of the Society of School Librarians
Viking will be publishing her In the House of the Queen's Beasts in Summer 2001.
Jean Thesman lives in Washington State, the setting for almost all of her books.
copyright © 2000 Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.