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En: A Girl Energy-Bending Between Worlds (The Girl, the Pendant & the Portal #1)
Michelle Reynoso. Caterpillar & Gypsy Moth, $15 paper (372p) ISBN 978-0-9997189-0-2
Faith McDaniels, 17, who is white, lives with her overbearing older brother, Eddie, after the death of their single mother. Stuck in a new town, Faith finds few friends at Madison High School and longs for the company of Kiara, her “modelish African queen bestie.” When Kiara drives two hours for a visit, Faith flees a grounding, and the duo heads to a dilapidated house to party. There, via a pendant, Faith is transported to a strange world where she learns she is the one that will help save both Earth and its sister world—Enlitra—from He. Luckily, Faith is helped by TheGirl, who has olive skin, a painted-on sarong, and a hibiscus bush growing from her head, to teach her to manipulate energy, which Faith names “En,” learning to pull it from the living to craft new forms. All this leads to a confrontation with He, who seeks to steal this energy from Enlitra and Faith. Microaggressions and tropes abound, and Reynoso focuses more on Faith’s real-world relationships than the magic; still, refreshing elements such as the description of Elitra and its inhabitants stand out in this speculative series starter. Ages 12–up. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 08/06/2021

Release date 02/01/2018

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