FICTION

Remarkables

HarperCollins//Katherine Tegen Bks. Sept. 2019. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062838469.
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Gr 3-6–When 11-year-old Marin moves to Pennsylvania, she doesn’t expect to find magic. Then she sees a group of teenagers vanish into thin air. The only other person to witness this event is lonely, angry Charlie. But Charlie insists the Remarkables are linked to a tragedy 20 years ago. Can Marin and Charlie stop the disaster—and should they? Marin’s fascination with the Remarkables stems from her struggles with toxic friendship; by contrast, Charlie blames the Remarkables for setting in motion events that tear his family apart. Family proves crucial to the way both Marin and Charlie understand friendship and how they make meaning out of pain. Marin’s relationship with her parents and baby brother is hilarious and endearing. Perceiving the complexity of her parents’ bond helps Marin reassess her past with mean girls and the Remarkables’ seeming doom. To help Marin’s mother take a promotion, her father becomes a stay-at-home dad, but he still struggles with the loss of his career as a gym teacher. Marin’s new emotional maturity also allows her to offer Charlie compassion. Haddix realistically portrays Charlie’s distress at his parents’ addiction and shows how Charlie’s identification with his father leaves him nearly incapable of imagining happiness for himself. Ultimately, Marin discovers that her and Charlie’s role might not be in changing the past but rerouting the future.
VERDICT Gripping, heartfelt, thoughtful and fun, Remarkables will delight readers of both tween realism and time-travel fantasy.

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