Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Lifeling, by Kirsty Applebaum

While only twelve years old, Lonny looks older on account of the magic he possesses.  When Lonny comes in contact with someone or something on the verge of death, he is faced with an irresistible urge to lay hands on them and save their life.  Unfortunately, every time he does so, he ages and loses a part of his life proportionate to the life he has saved.  Given the compulsive nature of his magic, being around others is dangerous and his family has tried to keep him hidden from the public.  To pacify Lonny, they have created a story of public hatred and fear of "lifelings" like Lonny that make it imperative for Lonny to lay low.  But Lonny longs to see the world and when he and his younger brother Midge sneak out to the city, they discover that lifelings are not feared, but honored. Lonny makes the fateful decision to reveal himself.

A quirky timeless story that reflects on the value of life within the bounds of a family of memorable characters.  I enjoyed its original juxtaposition of magic and mundane.  At times the story seems to be a medieval fairy tale and then someone pops up with a cell phone or a car to shake things up!  I loved the premise of Lonny's magic and the severe conundrums it presents.  And finally, the cast is wonderful.  However, I was less taken with the storytelling, which I found uneven and difficult to follow.

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