When by Victoria Laurie

By Ekta R. Garg

January 14, 2015

Age/Genre: Middle grade fiction

Rated: Bookmark it!

A teen’s unique ability makes her stand out in her New Jersey town: she can see the dates of people’s deaths. After her father’s death, her mother turns to alcohol and the girl must use her talent to earn money to support her family. When she shares the death date information with a client and the client’s son goes missing, the police come to the teen for information

Maddie Fynn doesn’t have many friends; in fact she has only one. Everyone else in her school thinks she’s a weirdo. That’s because Maddie looks at people’s foreheads and sees the date they will die. She’s never been wrong, and this fact has dug deep into her heart ever since her policeman father died in a shootout with drug dealers.

When she was young she’d drawn a picture of her family with their dates above their heads. After her father’s death, Maddie feels tortured by the possibility that she could have done something to prevent it. Her mother goes into full-blown denial about the whole topic, finding solace at the bottom of vodka bottles.

In order to pay the bills, Maddie accepts money from people who come to her asking about their deaths. Maddie can’t tell them how it’ll happen or even what time of day they’ll die. She just knows the date.

A client comes to Maddie to ask about her daughter. Maddie adds the death date of the woman’s son, and he goes missing a week later on the date Maddie quoted. The woman gets suspicious and shares her misgivings about Maddie with the police. When Maddie reads the death date of a cheerleader and she tries to warn the girl, things don’t go exactly as planned.

The police become more convinced that Maddie and her best friend, Stubby, know more than they’re sharing. Despite her fear at dealing with the cops and the increased ostracization she experiences at school because of her talent and the police involvement, Maddie is determined to prove her innocence and help the missing girl at the same time. She’s just afraid it might be too late.

Author Victoria Laurie’s book will keep readers enthralled from start to finish. Laurie doesn’t give her protagonist any room to breathe. Just when the situation gets bad for Maddie, Laurie makes it even worse. The result is a book where the tension remains taut and readers won’t want to blink.

At times Maddie sounds a little younger than her age, but Laurie doesn’t let the narration dally too long. Maddie’s dealings with her peers sound realistic and may make some readers reconsider how they treat people not on the popular list. Laurie scores on this point as well as all others; her twist ending adds the perfect touch to the story.

I strongly recommend readers Bookmark When.

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