From School Library Journal
Grade 7-10–Following a psychic's reading at her mom's party, 17-year-old Penny learns from disturbing dreams that she has wrought havoc in the same love triangle of past lives for a thousand years, acting repeatedly as a catalyst to disaster for her friend Diana and the man in both of their lives. She finds herself with intimate firsthand knowledge of King Louis XVI's impotence, which she blurts out in class; and her grisly dream shows Di's head impaled on a pike during the terrors of the French Revolution. No surprise that the plot sounds a bit far-fetched, stretching credibility to a gossamer strand that doesn't hold up throughout. Readers who rarely dig deeper than the shallow pages of a teen magazine or series romance might be interested in Penny's pasts as Marie Antoinette, artist Raphael's femme fatale Margherita, and a careless Viking maiden, but those looking for substance will not. Elements such as pain over her parents' divorce and the difficulty of rekindling a relationship with her father remain unexplored, and Penny herself is little more than a jumble of her current incarnation as a Canadian student/grocery clerk and her past ill-fated, unlikely lives. Fairly pedestrian writing and undifferentiated pacing fail to infuse key scenes with suspense and elevated importance, making even the race across a lake to save the two whose past lives she has repeatedly doomed seem commonplace. Lael Littke's Lake of Secrets
(Holt, 2002) is a more convincing story about delving into the realm of past lives.–Suzanne Gordon, Richards Middle School, Lawrenceville, GA
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Gr. 6-9. Seventeen-year-old Penny Fitzsimmons' life takes a surprising turn when a psychic tells her that she has loved the same boy during several lifetimes and that she's about to meet him again. Almost immediately, Penny begins having dreams in which the young man appears, not in his present-day form, but as the lover of Marie Antoinette, or, later, as the painter Raphael. McAuley, a first-time novelist, gets the voice just right when the action is in the present moment--Penny's meeting a new boyfriend or having to move to her father's house for the summer. The dream sequences are more problematic. Disjointed as dreams are, Penny's are particularly difficult to put into an orderly context. Having Penny keep a journal is helpful, but her writings, in a different typeface, add an extra layer of explanation. It's irascible, authentic Penny who carries the day here, but it's the strange vibrations surrounding her that will draw readers in. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved