"You don't know what you've got, 'til it's gone." That is a song lyric, but it is also a truth in life. And Mattie Marvelwood finds that truth out the hard way. Her whole family have talents, psychic abilities which allow them to make a living working carnivals and fairs. Her father can cast illusions, her brother disappears, her mother sees the future, and Mattie can read minds. But Mattie just wants to be normal - live in a house, go to school, not see people's thoughts when she touches them.
While they are performing with a small circus in South Carolina, Mattie begins to notice something is going on with the other acts. First Julietta loses her singing voice, then Selena loses her grace and agility. She hears others talking about former members of the circus who mysteriously lost their gifts; there was the ringmaster who no longer had his commanding presence, the tumbler who lost her coordination, and the strongman who lost his strength. What is causing this? And if Mattie has the chance to get rid of her talent, will she take it?
The characters are interesting and the setting gives a view into what life on the road with a circus or carnival is like. Mattie's dilemma bring the age-appropriate themes of longing to fit in and the dread of being seen as different into sharp focus. And the kindly Audra gives some good advice to readers of all ages. "We just have to try for gratitude. to realize when we have enough."
Recommended for middle grade readers who enjoy fiction with a dash of the magical. I read a copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.