Wow, talk about a book that reaches out and grabs you and sucks you under only to rise reluctantly at the end. NUMBERS by Rachel Ward (Scholastic/Chicken House, 2010) does just that. I started it while standing outside the church this morning waiting for the earlier service to finish (rule on Easter and Christmas is to get to mass an hour early if you want to sit) and finished it up just a few moments ago.
Jem, 15, has a special gift, one that has her keeping her distance from people. Jem can see the date of everyone's death when she looks them square in the eyes. As a child, her shouting out numbers was merely annoying to her drug-addicted mother. Now, Jem has learned to keep this secret from everyone. She has also learned not to let anyone get close to her. And then along comes Spider, a classmate, someone Jem hangs out with from time to time as they cut class. Jem knows Spider is not long for the world, and tries to stay away from him. However, the two grow close. On a trip to London, things fall apart. Jem sees too many people all with the same date of death and knows something bad is to happen. Suddenly she and Spider are at the heart of a police search.
Ward wrestles with some thorny issues here. If we knew the day and the time....kind of things but much more.
Reading Ladder rung possibilities:
BEING by Kevin Brooks
GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD
THE BODY FINDER