Nina Kiriki Hoffman,
A Fistful of Sky
(Ace, 2002)

Nina Kiriki Hoffman spins another story about a magical family in A Fistful of Sky.

Actually, at the start of the novel, narrator Gypsum LaZelle is the only one of the five children who fails to go through the feverish Transition, which bestows upon them the powers and gifts of their family. She feels set apart from her family, almost outcast and adrift.

Things change when she is 20, however, and the Transition comes on her while she is alone in the house. When she finally understands what has happened, she also learns that her gifts will require careful thought and cautious exploration. She has a gift for curses, which she must exercise if she doesn't want her gift to turn on her and kill her.

As in the adage "Be careful what you wish for," Gypsum's forays into using her power often have unintended results, many humorous. But there are serious issues underpinning the lighter moments, and magical talent does not exclude the LaZelles from the petty tyrannies of family life.

Hoffman works magic in her novel, creating vivid realistic characters and meshing them with a credible and carefully constructed plot. Gypsum is an especially sympathetic protagonist, and her struggles with her talents make her particularly endearing. The plot is remarkably swift-paced, drawing you in on the first page and holding you until the last.

With its blend of humor and honesty, A Fistful of Sky is an enchanting, entertaining novel sure to appeal to a wide range of readers.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 25 October 2003

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