Title: All our hidden gifts |Author: Caroline O’Donoghue | Publisher: Walker Books | Genre: YA | 384 pages
I received this book as an eArc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity.
After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace. Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily’s gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find—even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I requested this book. I don’t think it was…this.
The main character of this story, Maeve, is the youngest and most ordinary in a family full of overachievers and geniusses, and seeks desperately for her place in the world. She doesn’t have any real friends and tries to find a connection and popularity.
I had trouble liking Maeve. I understood her troubles and I understood in a way why she acted the way she acted. Some of her thoughts were pretty relatable. However, the way she acts around other people was self-centered and indifferent and while there are actions or dialogues that really touched at reality and relatability, it still didn’t mean that I had to like her or her actions. In a way this was what made it hard to continue reading this book for me because, well, it’s hard to read a book where you don’t like the main character.
The story takes quite a while to take off. I think I was about a third into this book but still felt like there wasn’t really anything happening. Of course there were things happening, but it felt more like a string of small things than anything really big and interesting. Even the disappearance of Maeve’s former best friend, Lily, did not really have that much of an impact on me as I would have hoped. The story pickes up pace in the second half of the book, with Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe start to investigate Lily’s disappearence themselves, but by then I wasn’t really that interested anymore.
Nevertheless, the plot of the story intrigued me. There is something about tarot and the way it was described that had me wanting to read this book at the first place. I loved the readings and the atmosphere that came with it. Too bad that that kinda fell behind with the progession of the story. I really liked the descriptions and the overall writing style, which is why I wished that I liked this book more.
The book ticks all the boxes when it comes to characters with disabilities, characters of colour and LGBTQ+ characters which was intriguing. It really was beautifully inclusive. If you are looking for a book solely because of that, then I would definitly recommend.
The more I think about it, I think the main reason, besides the slow pacing, that made it hard for me to like this book was the overall tone of the characters. Maeve and her friends are supposed to be about sixteen years old (Roe is a bit older) but very often they sounded like much younger children, between twelve and fourteen, tops. It just didn’t really fit with the seriousness of the issues that were presented and especially when the talking came to sex, it just made me frown a lot. It just didn’t feel like it fit.
In the end, I wish I liked this book more. It had some great premises, great inclusivity and some ingriguing points and issues but for me it just took too long to really pick up and also to hook me that I was more bored with it than really immersed or able to sympathise with the (main) characters.