What if you had the power to affect electricity and electrical devices? Would you struggle, daily, if not hourly, to keep your power under control, or would you allow yourself the freedom to let go? This is one of the dilemmas facing Daisy Jones, the 16-year-old protagonist of Andrea Buchanan’s teen lit novel, Gift. As Daisy says:
I told her how when I was a baby my mom noticed the radio garbling or going static if she happened to be holding me while she touched it to switch stations or fiddle with the volume. I told her how as a toddler I was able to change the channels on our television when I pressed my hands against the screen, trying to say hi to Cookie Monster. How anything – everything – electric went on the fritz when I touched it. Cordless phones, digital watches, microwaves, blow dryers. I told her how it was kind of a family joke when I was little, or a joke between me and my mom anyway, since that was all the family we had – there goes another toaster, Daisy must have sneezed – and how for a while that’s all it was: a joke. How as I got older it got more intense. How people started noticing, how stuff happened at school, how it stopped being funny.
To combat her “gift,” Daisy practices yoga breathing exercises, which keep her emotions under control. Over the years, she discovered that if she can’t moderate herself, things tend to go haywire. This, of course, could be a metaphor for teenagers everywhere, electrical gifts or not.
But then Daisy starts to experience bad dreams, nightmares in which she knows she is in danger. She is not “Daisy” in these dreams, but rather a woman named Jane. Her best friend, Danielle, is in the dream, too, as is another classmate, Vivi. Like Daisy, they are not themselves, but she knows that it’s them, nonetheless. One of them wields a bloody knife, another one is missing, and the third is in peril.
The girls struggle to interpret the dreams. Brought together when Daisy rescues Vivi from an apparent suicide attempt, the three bond. Daisy and Danielle have the same dreams, and Daisy begins to be visited by Vivi’s ghost/soulmate/guardian angel, Patrick. Also helping them out is Kevin, who is smitten with Daisy and determined to help her understand what is happening.
Is Patrick the beacon of goodness that Vivi believes him to be? Does he have Daisy’s best interests at heart when he urges her to use her powers? Or is there a darker, more sinister motive afoot? And what about Kevin and Danielle?
Gift is an engrossing, entertaining book that middle and high school kids will enjoy. Most teenagers experience friction in their friendships, and this book explores that. They also struggle with accepting themselves, the good and the bad. Daisy’s gift symbolizes that torturous high school experience.
As I tend to do, though, I found myself distracted by questions I wanted answered. If Daisy short circuits electronics by touch, what will happen when she needs to do schoolwork on a computer? Does her mother write a note or something? What about when she goes to college? How will she avoid computers then? One scene that took place in a hospital room also kind of threw me, because I started wondering what would happen if she got ill and needed treatment or tests.
But those questions are not the point of Gift. Entertaining, relatable characters and an interesting story are.