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The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding

Gwendolyn Golden wakes up one morning and very quickly discovers that this is not a normal day. She’s on the ceiling and her long brown hair is dangling up.  She’s unsure how to handle it or if she should even tell her mother. She considers it and decides her mom has enough to deal with raising three children on her own ever since her father mysteriously vanished when Gwendolyn was six.

Like any girl hitting puberty, Gwendolyn already feels like she has a lot to deal with and this one extra thing isn’t helping her quest to “fit in” school. She already thinks everyone considers her a bit of an oddball. “Why can’t my special gift be making banana bread, or playing soccer, or being great at chess or something? My special gift is much too strange.”

The way Gwendolyn deals with this new strange gift plays out in the rest of the book. She learns that she is actually not the sole Night Flyer, and is relieved to learn that there are people around her who have been designated to help. The journey helps her to learn important truths about her mother and her missing father. Gwendolyn also discovers the courage she never has as she outflies the deadly Shade.

The plot is simple and will appeal to the middle graders without the complexity of the Harry Potter series, which makes it an easier read for the younger audience. As an adult reading it, you need to remember that and perhaps see the book through the lens of a pre-teen; for my part, in addition to the universality of a character combating teen angst I was looking for a story line with more twists and turns.  Despite this shortcoming, Philippa Dowding has set up The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden nicely for the next sequel to the series.

Publication Date: Jan 25, 2014 (Canada), Feb 18, 2014 (US)