________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 28 . . .March 25, 2011


Parties & Potions.

Sarah Mlynowski.
New York, NY: Delacorte Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House), 2009.
340 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-0-385-73646-6.

Subject Headings:
Dating (Social customs)-Fiction.
High schools-Fiction.
Humourous stories.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



"Do we have to stay long?" I whine while pressing the front bell of a building at Thirteenth Street and Broadway. "How long do these Full Moon thingies last, anyway?"

"A few hours." Miri shushes me, clutching a candle- our gift- to her chest. It was the witchiest thing we could think of. Besides a cat. But bringing an animal as a dinner gift might be weird. Maybe a stuffed animal? Also weird.

"Stop being such a baby," she continues, "This is exciting! Our first real witch experience! I just wish you hadn't made us ten minutes late."

The truth is I am a little excited. Miri and I have never been invited to anything witchy before. Since mom only just this year told us about our powers (she had to after Miri accidentally brought a lobster back to life at a formal dinner), we haven't had any exposure to the witchcraft community. In fact, until Miri discovered Mywitchbook.com, we weren't even sure there was a witchcraft community.


Parties & Potions is the fourth book in the "Magic in Manhattan" series. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Weinstein is feeling optimistic about her sophomore year at school, but she knows if she wants to continue her relationship with her new boyfriend and best friends, she will have to conceal her true identity. She is a witch, a witch who believes "magic should be kept a secret." When Rachel does use her magic, she uses it with discretion. She has learned that, in magic, everything comes from something, and sometimes it's better to lie about who you are than to scare off the people who love you the most. Rachel's story is written in a light-hearted manner in the first person narrative. Although she delves further into the world of the paranormal when she starts to prepare for a coming-out party for witches with her sister, she still has to deal with many of the same issues teenagers today face. She worries about her appearance ("big head" and "uneven boobs"), she has to deal with bullies and feelings of jealousy at school, and she struggles with her conscience when it comes to decision making. At times, Rachel has difficulties communicating with her divorced parents and accepting her younger sister's beliefs, but as the three of them spend more time being honest with each other and talking about the past, they grow closer together. The bright pink cover of this book will attract readers of teen chick-lit, and, because the previous plots are recapped, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. A surprising revelation by a new witch at the end of the story will likely have fans waiting for news of a fifth book in the series.

      Canadian-born author Sarah Mlynowski has written many books for adults and teens. She now lives in New York City.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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