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Friday, October 12, 2012

Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore

Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (135 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Michaela Cochran still believes in enchanted mountains and fairytale castles, but her happily-ever-after will never happen if she can’t convince her mother to accept the magical gift Michaela has inherited.

Michaela Cochran and her family make the trip to her father’s ancestral home every year, but this year is special. Michaela is now twelve, the age when every girl in the family receives a special gift. When Aunt Sharon explains that Michaela’s gift is a magical ability to bring one of her drawings to life, Michaela begins making plans. What she wants most is a castle high on the mountain, where her family can live together. But if she can’t figure out how to resolve the growing hostility between herself and her mother, her gift is meaningless.

“Twelve is a magical age for every girl. You’re no longer a little girl, but you’re not quite a woman.” Michaela is just as mystified by this process as everyone else who has been through puberty. She has one foot planted in the innocence of childhood and is stepping into the next phase of life with just a little trepidation.

It isn’t easy to create a character who personifies this period in life without portraying her in an overly sentimental or emotional light but Ms. Dinsmore struck the perfect balance with Michaela. I truly enjoyed getting to know this character as she unravels a mystery that is at the heart of the disharmony she feels with her mother.

What surprised me the most about this book was how much I liked the secondary characters as well. Her older brother Sean provides a few instances of much-needed comic relief and her warm relationship with her grandparents and Aunt Sharon gave me glimpses of certain aspects of Michaela’s personality that her nuclear family probably doesn’t see regularly.

I was confused when one of the characters has an abrupt change of mind about something that was a repeated source of conflict earlier in the plot. Readers weren’t given a great deal of information about why or how this took place and as much as I enjoyed seeing the matter resolved I would have preferred to see more time spent discussing what made this individual change her mind.

Michaela’s Gift reminded me of all of the emotions and experiences I encountered for the first time at twelve. Even though my adventures were not nearly as exciting as Michaela’s my inner preteen felt a sincere kinship with her. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in seeing the world through the eyes of a twelve-year-old whether it is as a reader living through that age for the first time or someone who wishes to relive old memories.

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