Epiphany – Priya Sridhar

Illustrations – Meg Owenson

Kelli has known she can speak to objects and hear them reply for most of her life. Objects will even do what she asks them to. Since her parent’s divorce Kelli has kept quiet about her abilities but after doing paid surveys at the university where her mother works, Kelli’s abilities are suspected by researchers. Kelli joins a group of other children and young adults with potential ESP and telekinesis abilities for a three week study at the university. It isn’t long before the participants begin to disappear.

I enjoyed this book, although I am left with some questions (including why the blurb gave away so much of the story. Yes, I have too, but the blurb paved the way). I think my favourite character was Kelli’s pillow, whose role is to protect and comfort her. I can definitely imagine chatting away to an empathetic pillow when I have trouble sleeping.

I was annoyed by Kelli’s mother’s refusal to believe at the end of the book, despite all that she’d witnessed. She rambles to her daughter, “But Talia insisted on being part of that study anyway. And now look where that got her.” So much blame for Talia, so little responsibility for Kelli’s mother. Surely she would have found out all of the details of the study prior to allowing her daughter to participate.

I wondered how Kelli’s pillow knew what advice to give her but, all things considered, I suppose the pillow could have been given information from the walls. While I witnessed glimpses of what some of the other participants could do they never became characters I was invested in so I’d like to learn more about them.

It made no sense to me that when Kelli sneaks into Talia’s office she uses the computer to message her friend to do research on the person running the experiment instead of just using the desk phone to call her mother for help. We find out in the next chapter that the phone is in the same office as the computer. If the baddie was as smart as they obviously thought they were then they’d have known it was probably not the best idea to experiment on the children of their coworkers. If you’re going to do dodgy experiments on kids then surely anonymity is fairly high on your wish list, right?

While I thought the reason behind Kelli’s powers fading as the experiment progressed was obvious I’m not exactly the target audience for this book. If I was 8 to 12 when I was reading this I’m fairly certain I would have been pleasantly surprised when I learned why this was happening and probably wowed by it.

This book made me think about supposedly inanimate objects. As a kid I believed that objects could feel, long before I’d heard of animism, and even now I find myself unconsciously apologising to my car if I stall her. (Yes, my cars have all had names and personalities. I’ll happily admit to my weirdness.) Anyway … about the inanimate objects in this book.

Do walls and doors talk to one another and if so, what are they saying about us? Since Kelli seems to be the only one who can hear them when they respond to her, do the doors, walls and pillows think humans are essentially rude for refusing to acknowledge them? How does a pillow heat itself on command and can I ask mine to always remain cool? I also wondered how Kelli could drag a bag along the sidewalk, knowing that if she ever spoke to it she’d probably hear about how inconsiderate that was.

Following the end of the story there’s a glossary, discussion questions and writing prompts. From what I can gather from Goodreads there may be at least another two books following this one and I’m definitely interested in hanging out with Kelli again. I really want to know what happens if she ever tells her best friend about her abilities and whether her mother will ever believe they exist.

Content warning for discussion about the abuse of animals during scientific experiments. It is clear that the character talking about this experiment is completely against this unethical practice. If you’re not sure if this content will be upsetting for your child you may want to Google Harlow’s experiments with monkeys. Be warned – it’s not happy bedtime reading.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kelli talks to objects, and the objects talk back. However, Kelli has kept her powers of ESP and telekinesis hidden until a psychological study notices her potential. Kelli agrees to the psychologist’s program, interested in learning more about her abilities. She also meets other people with powers of their own. But when test subjects begin to disappear, Kelli discovers the curious psychologist is much more like a mad scientist eager for power.

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