The Other Ones

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Other Ones Book Poster Image
Teen doesn't want magic powers -- hard to believe!

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence

Some scuffling with a bully -- one boy's ribs are cracked.

Sex
Language

A few minor off-color words.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book seems to be focused on teens' desire to be accepted by their peers.

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What's the story?

Bridget has a magical heritage. She can see what normal people cannot, including tree spirits and xiii, her own personal threshold guardian, who warns her of impending trouble and urges her to accept her powers. But Bridget, already a bullied misfit at school, believes that accepting her powers will make her even more of an outcast.

Meanwhile, the dramas of high school go on: her friend has been abandoned by his father, she enters an art contest, a boy likes her, a bully menaces her and her few friends.

Is it any good?

There's little that's believable here, from the cardboard cutout characters (magic people good, almost everyone else bad) to the absurd premise. As desperate as teens can be to fit in, it will be hard for most readers to credit, or sympathize with, a character who rejects magic powers so she'll seem normal. Just once wouldn't it be nice to read a story where a character enjoys the gift of magic, glories in it, has fun with it, just as any real person would do?

Author Jean Thesman manages what few other authors can: to make magic tedious. The conclusion is obvious nearly from the first page -- all Bridget has to do is accept her powers, but she spends the entire book agonizing over it. Presumably Thesman has a point to make about teen self-acceptance, but her point will be lost with readers who just want to smack Bridget for being so dense.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it's believable that a teen would be so desperate to fit it that she'd reject her magic powers.

Book details

  • Author: Jean Thesman
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • Publication date: May 1, 1999
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
  • Number of pages: 181

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