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A novel by Orson Scott Card
(2019, Blackstone Publishers)

A teenage boy with the power to find things is called on to solve a missing person’s case, and has to overcome his social stigma as a thief while he makes a new friend who helps develop his micro-power.


-- First reading (ebook)
October 15th to 22nd, 2021


This was a story that truly captured the teenage angst with a character who was sympathetic and who knows what’s right and isn’t afraid to do so, even as he shoots his mouth out at the adults in authority. He has a great relationship with his father, and has accepted his role in life, even though he doesn’t like it. Having built a wall around himself, it’s interesting to see how hungry he is for company, and when Beth comes along, he doesn’t resist her too long. The author managed to put so many random thoughts into Ezekial’s head, things that a lot of people probably think of but never vocalize -it seemed like he summed up every random thought he’d ever had! The interesting part is that they were filtered through the inexperienced world of a teenaged boy, only looking at matters from one point of view. I loved the way he debated things with his father, Beth and Shank. So when a little girl is kidnapped, it nags at him until he has to try to find her by touching her lost items. And when Beth disappears, he panics, and her startling secret is revealed, and the relationship goes to the next level. Pretty cool.

Spoiler review:

This story had a character who was likable, even though he was disenfranchised with all authority except for his father. It’s a credit to the author that he could make such a character, have us sympathetic towards him, and make him real. Ezekial has been through a lot, because of his ability to find lost things and return them to their owners. Of course that makes everybody think he’s a thief, because otherwise how would he know where things came from? From school authorities to police, nobody has treated him well; they just can’t prove anything, so he’s still free, though he has a stigma around him.

Then along comes Beth, a small girl who talks a lot and whom he can’t get away from. She convinces him that she’s an outcast, too, and that they can protect each other from the outside world. Ezekial grows to enjoy her company as she forces her opinions on him day after day. They banter back and forth in a very realistic way, being completely honest about their opinions and the way they see life. It doesn’t hold any rosy pictures of the future, and as people of a certain age group, they don’t filter what they see through an adult perspective. School is just there to keep them off the streets, why learn all these things if they’ll never use them, people just say things to fill the space, everybody is out for themselves, and so on. While all true from a basic point of view, there’s always more, always a story behind why people do things. Disenchanted, it’s easy to ask why bother, but what kind of a world would it be if we all just did the bare minimum?

Ezekial’s relationship with his father is really special, by contrast with all his other relationships. His father understands, and has backed him up even by getting lawyers to keep his son safe from the police. After his mother died, Ezekial only had his father, and they grew into a comfortable relationship where neither expected too much of the other, but always relied on each other. Dad is the one whom Ezekial goes to when he needs backup, and Dad always gives Ezekial an honest opinion, no matter what Ezekial wants to hear.

With Beth’s arrival, and the intervention of a police detective who wants to find a missing girl, Ezekial’s life changes. A guidance counselor arranges for him to meet other people like him, who have micro-powers. The group leader knows everybody’s belly button style, while other kids can make people yawn at any time, neutralize odors, and other things that seem completely useless. Together, they try to find ways that they could be useful. And when Beth tries to analyze Ezekial’s micro-power, figuring out that he can know the location of the owners of the lost items, even their names and what they look like, it starts nagging on him that maybe he could use his power to find the little girl.

It works, and he leads detective Shank to the girl, who was going to be used for sex videos and finally murdered on camera. Yuck, and quite grizzly for a novel I think is aimed at young teens. But it’s framed in a way that it’s a gruesome part of life, something to be ashamed of, but a reality that needs to be faced.

All Ezekial wants to do is share his success with Beth, but she’s not home, and it’s as if her mother has taken her on a trip for a few days -except that Ezekial knows that something is wrong. He’s agitated when he talks with Dad and with Shank, so they all go to investigate. Shank lets them into the house he’s obtained a warrant for, and they find Beth’s secret: her mother died over the summer, and she’s been keeping that a secret so she doesn’t have to be sent to a foster home. She’s been doing everything online, using cash to buy groceries, using a monthly dividend cheque from her mother’s herebefore-unknown oil well. Not to mention keeping the stench contained -barely.

Yet Beth is still missing. Ezekial convinces the micro-power group to convene especially for him, where he finally realizes that he is Beth’s most values possession. He thinks it might even be love, but is still trying to figure that out. Through his connection with her, which might be her own micro-power, he helps her struggle up from a near-fall, and leads Shank and a few others to the remote location where she’s being held. They manage to rescue her in a daring escape, and catch the main perpetrator and the facilitator who was from a local police bureau.

Beth is eventually adopted by the parents of the little girl Ezekial saved. This is not only a realistic ending, but also allows Beth and Ezekial to start dating, once they figure out their relationship.

The story of the micro-power was very interesting, but the best part of the story was the character of Ezekial himself. He’s stuck in a rut, like so many people are, until this tiny grade 10 girl forces herself into his life -because she has no choice, to survive. Then the possibilities of his life open up, and he’s hesitant to take them. I loved the way the teens challenged authority, and the authority they were challenging knew this and understood it, and reacted appropriately. I especially liked the leader of the micro-power group, who had authority just because she was an adult, but maintained the respect of everybody, young people, teens and young adults together, just because she was very grounded. She nurtured their curiosity, understood their reticence to trying something new, and got around it by experimenting. A great leader.


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