by Diana López
First sentence: “Z could always find a reason to feel cursed.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: It’s bigger font on small pages, so even though it looks thick it goes fast. It reads very much like a Wendy Mass story, with short chapters, alternating viewpoints, and a lot going on. There’s a slight not-quite-romance (a couple of the boy main characters “like” the girl, but it goes nowhere). It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
Z, Dominic, and Loop have been friends for a long, long time. Which means their friendship is one part they like each other and one part competitive. And so when, one hot Texas summer, they discover a magic shop and enter a competition, it becomes somewhat of a tension-creator. They spend the summer working on their magic tricks, but what starts out as just fun becomes more tension-filled. Will their new hobby ruin their friendship?
The good things first: this is full of diversity. Yay for making Texan kids Latin@! And giving them real-world problems: Dominic’s parents are divorced, Z is the youngest of a big family and is always getting ignored, and Loop just found out the man he thought was his biological father isn’t. Plus the way López writes about magic is really neat. She explains the tricks, so you can get a sense of what’s going on, but she doesn’t give away any (well, not many, anyway) of the secrets of the trade.
My big problem was that I felt sorry for Z, who was pathetic, and I felt Dominic was a bit annoying, but Loop and Ariel (she’s the daughter of the magic shop owners) were so annoying I wanted to smack them. Maybe I should give López props for making me care enough to want to smack the kids, but I found them annoying. Which means I really didn’t care too much about how it all resolved. I finished it — it wasn’t really bad — but I didn’t love it. (It really wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great either.)
Maybe I just wasn’t the right person for it.