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When We Were Magic
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When We Were Magic
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"Profoundly thoughtful...An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic." —Kirkus Reviews "A laugh-out-loud, exciting ride...a darkly comedic coming-of-age...
"Profoundly thoughtful...An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic." —Kirkus Reviews "A laugh-out-loud, exciting ride...a darkly comedic coming-of-age...
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  • "Profoundly thoughtful...An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic." —Kirkus Reviews
    "A laugh-out-loud, exciting ride...a darkly comedic coming-of-age story." —School Library Journal

    A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an "author to watch."
    Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

    Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

    That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn't change on prom night.

    When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

About the Author-

  • Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction and a winner of the Hugo Award. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and The Boston Globe, and they are a regular contributor for Tor. Their most recent fiction credits include Fireside Fiction and Uncanny Magazine. Find out more at SarahGailey.com and find them on Twitter @GaileyFrey.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2020
    Getting through high school requires more than a little bit of magic. On prom night, when Alexis accidentally kills Josh Harper, she panics and summons her five best friends--Paulie, Roya, Iris, Marcelina, and Maryam--for help. Alexis knows she can rely on them, not only because of their unshakeable friendship, but because of what they have in common: the ability to do magic. Attempting to make things right, the girls cast a spell but are left with a disconnected collection of Josh's body parts, including a cold, glassy version of his heart. They divide them up and agree to dispose of what is left of Josh, piece by piece. Alexis insists on witnessing each body-part-releasing ceremony, in the process exploring her bonds with her friends--and, in one case, feelings that go far beyond friendship. But as their relationships strengthen, the spell takes its toll: Every time they lose a body part, the girls lose something too, forcing them to rethink how they define themselves and each other. This work of speculative fiction is a profoundly thoughtful exploration of female friendship, love, growth, and identity. The fully realized characters are diverse in ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity. While the final two-thirds of the book are beautifully paced, balancing introspection and character development with plot, the first third at times feels weighed down by explanation and backstory.An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic. (Speculative fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2020

    Gr 9 Up-Alexis and her five best friends are just like any other seniors in high school, making the most of their last year together, hiding secret crushes, and worrying about what the future has in store. Oh, except that they all possess magical powers. And Alexis accidentally killed a boy on prom night. Bound together by friendship and a terrible mistake, the girls embark on a mission to right the wrong of Josh Harper's death without getting caught or suffering the consequences of their spells that don't quite work. While at first it is difficult to keep the large cast of characters straight, the distinct personalities and characteristics of the diverse group of friends shine as the story progresses. With authenticity and relatability, Gailey tackles difficult issues like police presence in schools, body image, the dangers of grown men who show too much interest in teen girls, and where one fits in the LGBTQ+ community. Alexis's reliable, understanding dads are a refreshing change from many parent-free YA books. The story does not always go the way the girls, or the reader, may have liked, but it is a laugh-out-loud, exciting ride. VERDICT Like the movie The Craft for a new generation, this novel is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering how it will all turn out. Offer to older teens looking for a darkly comedic coming-of-age story.-Erica Deb, Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, NJ

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 3, 2020
    Hugo Award–winner Gailey’s darkly funny YA debut follows high school senior Alexis and her tightly knit friend group as they cover up an accidental magical murder. Alexis, Iris, Marcelina, Maryam, Paulie, and Roya have worked to gain control and understanding of their powers, which manifest differently for each. After Alexis decides to lose her virginity on prom night to classmate Josh Harper, an unfortunate magical mishap leaves Josh dead, Alexis at fault, and her loyal band of friends arranging a cover-up, keeping quiet as an investigation into his disappearance begins. Magic isn’t Alexis’s only secret—she’s also in love with her best friend, Roya. The drama surrounding the death and cover-up is entertainingly macabre, involving disseminating parts of the corpse. Overall, the story’s magical
    elements signify the exploration of insecurity, uncertainty, and self-acceptance surrounding identity and significant life changes (e.g., graduation, redefining friendships, and coming out) for this deeply inclusive group, which spans gender identities, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Alexis’s hesitancy to admit her feelings for Roya is rooted in her self-doubt and the value she places on their friendship, a distinctive choice that feels modern and relatable. Ages 14–up. Agent: DongWon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2020
    Grades 9-12 Alexis and her five best friends all found each other through a shared secret: their magical powers. But they still don't fully understand how the powers work or to what extent. An unfortunate prom-night accident leaves a boy dead, and their efforts to "fix" the problem (i.e., make it go away) only create new problems. The friends, who are all trying to come into their own as they approach adulthood, are now also dealing with the consequences their failed magic brings. Though the plot is driven by the boy's death in many ways, Gailey's novel, told from Alexis' perspective, focuses more heavily on the characters. Every one of the friends has struggles, a fleshed out back story, and desires the reader can root for, and they're each trying to figure out all manner of things, such as their preferred pronouns, whom they're attracted to, or how to reconcile their magic with their cultural beliefs. More than anything, the novel explores finding stability with friends and family in a world where everything else is a big question mark.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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