Monday, November 20, 2006

Hidden Talents

Book: Hidden Talents
Author: David Lubar
Published: 1999

Edgeview Alternative School is where they send the dregs: the bullies, the misfits, and the hopeless. It’s filled with students and teachers who have nowhere else to go. Edgeview is Martin Anderson’s last chance to fix his life. But he just can’t help himself, and soon he’s fallen back into the habits of a lifetime, mouthing off to all the teachers, somehow managing to say the one thing that will make them angriest. So much for that.

Watching the other students, Martin slowly comes to realize that some of them aren’t just square pegs in a world of round holes, they’re lightning bolts. From Flinch, who always seems to know just what’s coming up, to Torchie, who manages to start fires without match or lighter, to Lucky, who is just that, his new friends each have a hidden talent that finds its way out in surprising and often destructive ways. Martin pushes them to refine and control their talents, because it may be the only thing that will ever get them out of Edgeview. He also tries not to resent their special gifts, knowing that he’s just your run-of-the-mill punk kid who’s already halfway down the drain.

But what if some talents are way more hidden than others?

Just like Holes, this tale of kids at the bottom and heading further down doesn’t make the mistake of valorizing or demonizing, but instead humanizes them. They’re likable, if flawed (there were a few times I was surprised Martin didn’t get smacked), and their reluctance to believe in their own gifts until they need them rings true. This story about discovering value in the valueless is something a lot of kids need to hear.

For some reason, I was expecting a lighter, goofier story than I got, maybe because of the cartoony cover of the edition I read. That’s okay; I loved what I got, and will definitely pick up the sequel (True Talents).

No comments: