Book Review: Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Extraordinary imageWhen Mallory leaves the world of faeries to befriend a human named Phoebe Rothschild, her only thought is securing the future of her people. But as she gets to know Phoebe she wavers in her purpose, so her brother Ryland is sent in to do what Mallory cannot. With the future of the faerie kingdom at stake, he knows he must not fail, even if it means manipulating Phoebe and isolating her from her family and her beliefs about herself.

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin straddles the world of fantasy and reality with a look at how vulnerable teen girls can be to undue influence from friends and boyfriends. All Phoebe knows is that Mallory is her friend, the sister she never had. They do everything together, and because Phoebe lacks self-confidence, she often goes along with anything Mallory suggests.

Then everything changes when Ryland comes into the picture. Ryland is manipulative and abusive, yet Phoebe is fascinated by him and wants to please him. He isolates Phoebe from her family and turns her against Mallory. Under his influence, Phoebe hardly recognizes herself or understands the things she’s willing to do at his request.

Ryland has a magical advantage in turning Phoebe to his will; even so, this should be a great issue to discuss in a mother-daughter book club with girls who are 14 and older and may be starting to date. Some questions to ask include: How can you tell the difference between a caring relationship and one that’s manipulative? What made Phoebe so vulnerable to control? What could she have done differently?

These are major issues for teens, who may be venturing into new relationships without parental oversight for the first time ever. Phoebe is an interesting character to discuss—she’s kind, she’s thoughtful, she’s not overly focused on material possessions. Her mother is a strong role model for her, yet Phoebe must also realize that she needs strength of character and belief in her own abilities to succeed as she grows.

There’s so much more to talk about, including Mallory and Phoebe’s relationship, the faerie world, an ancient pact and a discussion of what it means to be ordinary as compared to extraordinary. I highly recommend it.

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