August 2010

A tale of three sisters

By Robin Benway
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Robin Benway, best known for her debut hit Audrey, Wait!, has penned another sharp and witty read about three sisters with supernatural abilities.

On the outside April, May and June Stephenson seem perfectly average. April, a high-school junior and the eldest of the three, is the over-achiever, while her sister May, a sophomore, is the self-imposed outcast and June, the budding freshman, longs to be popular. All three are also trying to cope with a move and their parents’ divorce when suddenly they are bestowed with inexplicable abilities. (April has visions of the future, May can become invisible and June reads peoples’ thoughts.)

At first, the girls’ powers barely help them survive their new high school. May inadvertently keeps disappearing during class, while April misses predicting an earthquake but foresees losing her virginity to a hunky lockermate. June uses her mind-reading powers to determine if her classmates like her fashion sense and for getting the popular girls to turn on each other. Unfortunately, April’s visions are zeroing in on something dangerous just as June starts hanging out with some shady characters. Mix in some unexpected romance, heightened sibling bickering and numerous witty zingers, and this book will be easily dog-eared by summer’s end.

With chapters alternating among the three sisters’ points of view, middle sister May (“I’m not trying to be all ‘Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!’ about it.”) is painted as the snarky wisecracker, but it’s really June who gets the best lines (“April got a vision of her and Julian doing the nasty. There, you’re welcome.”). Meanwhile, poor April has the large responsibility of looking out for both her sisters, who seem content on breaking the rules whenever they can. (“I hate being the oldest. I hate it because I’m the one who has to experience everything first.”) No doubt female readers will be able to identify with at least one of the sisters, if not all of them. There is no way Benway is an only child, because her portrayal of sisterly love is rightfully authentic.

A little more crass than Meg Cabot and not as cutesy, Benway skillfully blends hilarious dialogue with heart-warming sisterly affection in The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June. One can only hope she’s brewing up a sequel, because readers will surely want more of these calendar girls.

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