The Thing with Feathers / by McCall Hoyle. 9.14.2018

Blink     ISBN 9780310758518

YA Grades 9-12     Rating: 4

The only impression Emilie Day had of high school came from movies. And as a teenager with epilepsy, she never imagined she could do something as normal as attend school.

After her father dies, she gets the chance she never wanted. Her therapist, convinced that socializing would lift her spirits, advises Emilie’s mother to send her daughter to high school. Emilie is mortified by the idea of having seizures and blackouts in public, and she begs her mother not to make her go. They settle with a compromise: a three-month trial.

Mom’s biggest condition? Emilie has to tell all of her teachers and classmates about her epilepsy.

Vowing to make her “prison” sentence as short as possible, Emilie’s determined to keep her condition a secret and not to get attached…until the basketball star looks her way. But would even sweet Chatham York look down upon her for having epilepsy?

The Thing with Feathers challenges teen fiction readers to be authentic. While Emilie is both a humorous and thoughtful character, she creates most of the conflict within herself by trying to be someone else. The story opens the eyes of readers to see that people living with physical afflictions desire the same things as those without—acceptance.

Emilie faces depression and crippling fear because of her epilepsy, which feels realistic, but all of the other characters also have someone close to them who deals with a similar condition or other issue (mental illness, physical abuse, etc.). Despite Emilie’s hiding her ailment, no one judges her or has a negative reaction to hearing about her condition. Because of the other characters’ situations, Emilie is accepted by everyone and gets more friends—which feels unrealistic.

Overall, The Thing with Feathers gives a sassy first-person perspective of what it feels like to seek acceptance in spite of a physical struggle, like epilepsy. Readers of A Walk to Remember and The Fault in Our Stars who are looking for a story of hope and saccharine teen romance will love award-winning author McCall Hoyle’s heart-warming story.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ