________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014


Forcing the Ace. (Orca Limelights).

Erin Thomas.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
139 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0645-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0646-7 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0629-0 (epub).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I do the parts of the routine I can do with the props I have, while Jack, Donna and Zoe watch. Itís nearly flawless. Itís the show I should have done for Bayard.

When Iím finished, Jack jerks a thumb at Zoe.

ďYou two get along?Ē

I look away. Neither of us answers.

He grunts. ďThatís too bad. I might have taken you on, if you came as a set.Ē


I donít want to work with Zoe. I donít want to work with anyone. But itís a chance to compete. Right now, itís my only chance.

All I have to do is convince Zoe.


Forcing the Ace is a coming-of-age story about magic, trickery, and loyalty. Alex needs a sponsor in order to enter the Silver Stage magic competition. He was hoping Donna, the magic store owner, would sponsor him, but he lost that competition. In comes Jack, a veteran magician, who can help Alex. The only downside is that Alex must work with another young magician, Zoe. He doesn't want to share the limelight, but he reluctantly agrees and manages to convince Zoe to join him. While Alex and Zoe learn a lot from Jack, they find it difficult to work with each other. They have very different styles and strengths. When Jack disappears for reasons unknown, Alex and Zoe must decide whether to keep pursuing the competition and their dreams. But can they set aside their differences to put on a performance worthy of winning the prestigious Silver Stage music competition?

     As the story progresses, readers and Alex come to realize the importance of teamwork and alternatives to magic performances. Magic is more than the limelight or competition. Magic is also not trying to fool people, but itís a time for people to relax and enjoy themselves. Will Alex and Zoe discover the true meaning of being a magician?

      While a simple story with minor plot twists, Forcing the Ace tells an important story of growing up and finding meaning in the profession you aspire to. Many teens will go through similar anxieties and uncertainties to those that Alex goes through during the magic competition, perhaps to a lesser extent, but, nonetheless, important in shaping how they view their futures and the career path they intend to pursue.

     With its simple and easy to comprehend language, Forcing the Ace is suitable for reluctant teen readers. The story focuses on plot and character development. Itís also a suitable read for children interested in learning more the professional world of magic.


Alicia Cheng is a Childrenís Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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