I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
So, this was a tough one to rate. We all know that I'm a sucker for magical realism, and that nine times out of ten I end up loving books that fall into this category madly and deeply. A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic was, well, unusual. While the magic and mystery were definitely there, it felt bogged down by the way that it was told. So much promise, but the way it played out didn't quite hit the mark.
Let's start with the good. First of all, Leila's character is more than enough reason to read this story. Leila is a girl between worlds. Not at home in the U.S., where her Pakistani roots make her stand out. Not at home in Pakistan, where her upbringing keeps her from fitting in. Although I never had it quite as bad as Leila, I still saw myself in her. Growing up I always felt like I never quite fit in with my extended family, because of the way I was raised. I know there are other kids out there like that too, and they'll instantly take a liking to Leila and her battle to find where she fits in.
In fact, the settings that this book take place in are the other part of this that I loved. Leila spends the story in Pakistan, and Kai spends it in Texas. Watching these two go through such similar problems, in such different locales, was interesting. Lisa Papademetriou hits the trials of growing older right on the head. The bullies. The friends. The family interactions. As separate characters, these two were adorable.
So why the three stars? As I mentioned above, it was really the way that the story was told. The magical book that tied these two together, and the mystery that surrounded it all, felt off. It almost felt too surreal to really fit in with everything else that was going on. Plus, there were never any really tight resolutions. I kept wanting to see something good happen to our girls, but it never did. While this is a pretty solid coming of age story, it lacked the pieces to make it feel like it was really steeped in magic.