Friday, February 23, 2018

Zenn Diagram, by Wendy Brant

Eva is a brilliant math tutor.  Her skill is based not only on her knowledge of the material, but also on her ability to see inside people and know what they are struggling with.  It doesn't come from pedagogical talent or unusual empathy, but rather from a supernatural sense.  When she touches a person or an object that they have touched, she feels the troubles that they are experiencing.  While this is helpful for tutoring, it makes any regular contact with other human beings uncomfortable.  And her social life has consequently suffered.  Her romantic life is non-existent.

And then she meets Zenn, who is everything a YA heartthrob should be:  cute, considerate, and mysterious.  But there's one more thing: she can actually touch him.  And that only starts the mystery, which will bring out family secrets and unresolved issues that are much greater than just a simple romance.

Given its centrality to the novel's story, the supernatural element is a surprisingly light touch.  Instead, this is really about the relationship between Eva and Zenn, and about their families.  It works quite well as a story.  Eva is engagingly candid and outspoken and she brings out a lot from her family and friends.  The result is a chemistry that Brant has lovingly crafted full of intelligent conversation between both kids with kids and kids with parents.  No deep thoughts, but a fine entertaining story.

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