Book Review: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June

Benway, Robin. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June. New York, NY: Razorbill, 2010.

April, the oldest, can see the future. May, the middle sister, can disappear. And June, the youngest, can read minds. At the time of their parents’ divorce, the three sisters recover these strange and magical powers from their childhood, powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls must come together to save the day-and their family. But in the process they learn that there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

April, May, and June are sisters and they are all in high school together. When they suddenly “get” magical powers, they seem to recall one day as children when some strange things happened. The powers went into hibernation mode for some reason, but now they are back in a novel that is reminiscent of the TV show Charmed, minus a book of shadows and all the demons and whitelighters. The chapters alternate point of view, with each girl telling equal parts of the story. Sometimes this kind of technique is difficult to follow, but I had no problems with it here.

Each girl’s power is fitting for her personality – and birth order. As the oldest child, April can see the future. Even without powers she would be able to predict things that might happen to her younger sisters, because she’s been there. But now she can literally read the future like a book, and quickly (perhaps a bit too quickly) learns to “scan” the future, like skimming the pages of a book, to see if sometthing will happen. While the future can change, so there is no certainty, I still felt like it was a little bit of a cheat… but in a book for teens, about teens with magical powers, I suppose there has to be a bit of wish-fulfillment.

May, as the middle child, hates feeling like she’s invisible when her older and younger sisters get all the attention. But then… she really does disappear. At first she’s upset that her power makes her even more insignificant. But then she realizes she can eavesdrop on conversations, and leave the house when she’s supposed to be grounded. Maybe being invisible isn’t so bad after all.

June is the youngest, and she desperately wants to be one of the popular girls at school. When she starts reading minds, she knows exactly what to say to fit right in. But what if she can’t get the voices out of her head? I like that she could read minds because the youngest sibling often feels left out when parents or siblings discuss something in private, telling her “we’ll tell you when you’re older.” June is the wish-fulfillment of the youngest-child’s desire to know what everyone else knows.

The climax of the novel comes when April predicts a disaster, and she and her sisters must come together to try to prevent it from happening. Each girl’s power plays an important role in the plot, and of course there is a happily-ever-after for everyone. (Oh come on, that’s not a spoiler – look at the cover above, and you don’t have to be April to know there’s a happy ending.)

Overall, it’s not one I would read again but I did enjoy it. I recommend it to teen girls who wish their own lives had a bit more magic, or who want to read about sisters.

Author Robin Benway’s blog

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