“Are you really a thief?”
That’s the question that has haunted fourteen-year-old Ezekiel Blast all his life. But he’s not a thief, he just has a talent for finding things. Not a superpower–a micropower. Because what good is finding lost bicycles and hair scrunchies, especially when you return them to their owners and everyone thinks you must have stolen them in the first place? If only there were some way to use Ezekiel’s micropower for good, to turn a curse into a blessing. His friend Beth thinks there must be, and so does a police detective investigating the disappearance of a little girl. When tragedy strikes, it’s up to Ezekiel to use his talent to find what matters most.
Master storyteller Orson Scott Card delivers a touching and funny, compelling and smart novel about growing up, harnessing your potential, and finding your place in the world, no matter how old you are.
(From the Book Blurb)
Ezekiel Bliss (or Ezekiel Blast as he keeps calling himself -names are important to him) is an outsider. In fact, other teenagers give him a wide birth and even cross to the other side whenever he approaches. The reason for all this is that Ezekiel has a reputation of being a thief and who would like to be friends with somebody you cannot trust?
One day a girl from his school, short enough to seem to be a six or seven year old, although she is actually 13, starts walking next to him. She also tries to engage him in a conversation and break through Ezekiel’s ‘shunning bubble’. Beth is the first and the only person who actually wants to know his real story. It turns out Ezekiel has never stolen a single thing in his life. It’s just that he has a special talent. Lost objects seem to call to him and ask to be returned to their rightful owners. When it started happening, Ezekiel was just six and when he returned his first lost and found object (a new and shiny bike), he was promptly accused of having stolen it in the first place and then beaten up. Years and years of police interviews and pages and pages in his police file made Ezekiel learn a few survival techniques. First of all, never return the object directly. Secondly, do not trust the authorities, including teachers, school counsellors and police officers.
When a new counsellor suggests that Ezekiel should join a scientific study, his father first checks this is not a new attempt to make his son have therapy ‘to cure him of something’. The Group of Rare and Useless Talents (GRUT) meets once a week and does resemble group terapy sessions, although the main objective is to let the teenagers understand better the limits of their micropowers (as opposed to ‘superpowers’). Some of them are uttely bizarre, such as knowing if somebody’s navel is of an in or out kind or being able to make people yawn in an uncontrolled manner. Beth encourages Ezekiel to do a few experiments of his own to see how far his unusual talent extends. Unfortunately, Ezekiel and Beth fall out and she walks away without the protection of Ezekiel’s company. Because this is exactly what she needed him for when they first met – to give her a protection from school bullies ready to pounce on a little person, because she is utterly defenceless. This was at first, only then, they also became friends, unlikely, improbable, mismatched friends, who would do anything for each other. When Ezekiel is asked by a police officer to help him find a kidnapped eight year old girl, he cannot even share the story with Beth, who appears to have gone somewhere on with her mother and isn’t home. But has she really gone on holiday?
The story makes a compulsive reading. There are twists and turns, and dark discoveries that made me revise my initial idea of the target audience. It did raise a question of what kind of topics we should include or exclude from YA books. The content warnings for this book include: an unexpected death of a parent, child kidnapping and child pornography. There are no graphic descriptions and the issues are dealt with maximum sensitivity. Should we let our children that, although mercifully rare, these things exist? We do not learn much about the main villains in the book (apart from a few details about one of the kidnappers), so the picture is quite black and white here.
Ezekiel and Beth make fantastic protagonists. Despite the dark things that happened to them, they are still typical teenagers: smart and sarcastic, looking for love and friendship, exploring what their limits are and what they can do to make a difference in other people’s lives. The relationship between Ezekiel and his father was so loving and tender, that it brought tears to my eyes. The police officer who trusted Ezekiel to help him with the investigation is a secondary character, but he also helps to explore some very important questions, such as: what does it mean to be friends with somebody, especially if there is an age difference. The GRUT guys deserve a special mention. I would have loved to get to know them better, but I do understand that to keep the story focused and streamlined, the author needed to make some sacrifices.
A compelling read, written in a very simple and engaging way, the book touches upon some very dark topics, so I probably wouldn’t recommend it to middle graders, but rather to slightly older teenagers. The protagonist Ezekiel is 14 years old, so perhaps this is the target age, although the story flows so easily, that you might first think it was written for younger audience.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the DRC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read Lost and Found or is it on your tbr? Is it important to provide content warnings for books like this?