“Am I Cassie Renfield, descendant of the gods, or just a girl at the end of a long line of crazy people?” Sixteen-year-old Cassie sometimes sees a full-body glow around individuals, but rather than being good news, this glow indicates they will die within 24 hours. Cassie has always had this “gift,” but its significance only fully dawns on her after she witnesses the glow on her beloved grandmother, who has been her guardian since Cassie lost both her parents at an early age. Shaken by her grandmother’s death, and finally realizing the full impact of her “gift,” Cassie must decide if she is meant to intervene in the fate of those who wear the mark. First-time author Nadol has interwoven an absorbing and thoughtful philosophical dilemma with a YA romance. There are moments of predictability, and the potential familial connection to the Three Fates is a little off-putting, but characters grapple convincingly with the moral question and nothing is oversentimentalized. A great book for discussion groups, this will engender plenty of conversation. Grades 9-12. --Cindy Welch
Jen Nadol grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, the hometown of John Updike, Taylor Swift, and the now-defunct Monopoly railroad. She has a BA in literature from American University and has lived in Washington DC, Boston, and New York City. She currently resides in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and three young sons and is at work on her next two related novels. She has no paranormal abilities and is pretty happy about that.www.jennadolbooks.com
Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark--a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person's imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today. Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her "gift," seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she's careful to hide her secret--even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend--with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone's last, should you tell them?