When we were magic

Sarah Gailey

Book - 2020

When Alexis accidentally kills a classmate on prom night using magic, her best friends Roya, Iris, Paulie, Marcelina, and Maryam join in using their powers to try to set things right.

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Subjects
Genres
Paranormal fiction
Published
New York : Simon Pulse 2020.
Edition
First Simon Pulse hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
344 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781534432871
1534432876
Main Author
Sarah Gailey (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Alexis and her five best friends all found each other through a shared secret: their magical powers. But they still don't fully understand how the powers work or to what extent. An unfortunate prom-night accident leaves a boy dead, and their efforts to fix the problem (i.e., make it go away) only create new problems. The friends, who are all trying to come into their own as they approach adulthood, are now also dealing with the consequences their failed magic brings. Though the plot is driven by the boy's death in many ways, Gailey's novel, told from Alexis' perspective, focuses more heavily on the characters. Every one of the friends has struggles, a fleshed out back story, and desires the reader can root for, and they're each trying to figure out all manner of things, such as their preferred pronouns, whom they're attracted to, or how to reconcile their magic with their cultural beliefs. More than anything, the novel explores finding stability with friends and family in a world where everything else is a big question mark. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Alexis and her five best friends all found each other through a shared secret: their magical powers. But they still don't fully understand how the powers work or to what extent. An unfortunate prom-night accident leaves a boy dead, and their efforts to fix the problem (i.e., make it go away) only create new problems. The friends, who are all trying to come into their own as they approach adulthood, are now also dealing with the consequences their failed magic brings. Though the plot is driven by the boy's death in many ways, Gailey's novel, told from Alexis' perspective, focuses more heavily on the characters. Every one of the friends has struggles, a fleshed out back story, and desires the reader can root for, and they're each trying to figure out all manner of things, such as their preferred pronouns, whom they're attracted to, or how to reconcile their magic with their cultural beliefs. More than anything, the novel explores finding stability with friends and family in a world where everything else is a big question mark. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Hugo Award–winner Gailey's darkly funny YA debut follows high school senior Alexis and her tightly knit friend group as they cover up an accidental magical murder. Alexis, Iris, Marcelina, Maryam, Paulie, and Roya have worked to gain control and understanding of their powers, which manifest differently for each. After Alexis decides to lose her virginity on prom night to classmate Josh Harper, an unfortunate magical mishap leaves Josh dead, Alexis at fault, and her loyal band of friends arranging a cover-up, keeping quiet as an investigation into his disappearance begins. Magic isn't Alexis's only secret—she's also in love with her best friend, Roya. The drama surrounding the death and cover-up is entertainingly macabre, involving disseminating parts of the corpse. Overall, the story's magical elements signify the exploration of insecurity, uncertainty, and self-acceptance surrounding identity and significant life changes (e.g., graduation, redefining friendships, and coming out) for this deeply inclusive group, which spans gender identities, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Alexis's hesitancy to admit her feelings for Roya is rooted in her self-doubt and the value she places on their friendship, a distinctive choice that feels modern and relatable. Ages 14–up. Agent: DongWon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Mar.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—Alexis and her five best friends are just like any other seniors in high school, making the most of their last year together, hiding secret crushes, and worrying about what the future has in store. Oh, except that they all possess magical powers. And Alexis accidentally killed a boy on prom night. Bound together by friendship and a terrible mistake, the girls embark on a mission to right the wrong of Josh Harper's death without getting caught or suffering the consequences of their spells that don't quite work. While at first it is difficult to keep the large cast of characters straight, the distinct personalities and characteristics of the diverse group of friends shine as the story progresses. With authenticity and relatability, Gailey tackles difficult issues like police presence in schools, body image, the dangers of grown men who show too much interest in teen girls, and where one fits in the LGBTQ+ community. Alexis's reliable, understanding dads are a refreshing change from many parent-free YA books. The story does not always go the way the girls, or the reader, may have liked, but it is a laugh-out-loud, exciting ride. VERDICT Like the movie The Craft for a new generation, this novel is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering how it will all turn out. Offer to older teens looking for a darkly comedic coming-of-age story.—Erica Deb, Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, NJ Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When Alexis accidentally kills a classmate on prom night using magic, her best friends Roya, Iris, Paulie, Marcelina, and Maryam join in using their powers to try to set things right.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Four teen witches whose secret abilities have forged their friendship find their close bond tested by complicated love, jealousy and a magical accident that ends a boy’s life. 25,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an 'author to watch.' Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable'even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn't change on prom night.When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails'and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.