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Reviews of The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin

The Lightness of Hands

by Jeff Garvin

The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin X
The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2020, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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About this Book

Book Summary

A quirky and heartfelt coming-of-age story about a teen girl with bipolar II who signs her failed magician father up to perform his legendary but failed illusion on live TV in order to make enough money to pay for the medications they need - from the author of Symptoms of Being Human. Perfect for fans of Adi Alsaid, David Arnold, and Arvin Ahmadi.

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Dante is desperate for something in her life to finally go right. Her father was a famous stage magician until he attempted an epic illusion on live TV―and failed. Now Ellie lives with her dad in a beat-up RV, attending high school online and performing with him at birthday parties and bars across the Midwest to make ends meet.

But when the gigs dry up, their insurance lapses, leaving Dad's heart condition unchecked and forcing Ellie to battle her bipolar II disorder without medication.

Then Ellie receives a call from a famous magic duo, who offer fifteen thousand dollars and a shot at redemption: they want her father to perform the illusion that wrecked his career―on their live TV special, which shoots in Los Angeles in ten days.

Ellie knows her dad will refuse―but she takes the deal anyway, then lies to persuade him to head west. With the help of her online-only best friend and an unusual guy she teams up with along the way, Ellie makes a plan to stage his comeback. But when her lie is exposed, she'll have to confront her illness and her choices head-on to save her father―and herself.

CHAPTER 1

THE TRICK WORKED LIKE THIS: I entered the gas station first, playing the part of the suspect teenager, the apparent shoplifter—misdirection incarnate. I prowled the chip aisle, fingering noisy snacks, and then, just as the clerk started to get suspicious, Dad would walk in. There was nothing flashy about the setup, no pyrotechnics or vanishing objects, just a story to obscure what was really happening. That's what magic is, after all: a lie that's more satisfying than the truth.

Outside, our rickety RV with its attached ten-foot trailer sat at the farthest pump, where it would suck diesel until the prepaid Visa ran dry. I hoped fifteen bucks would buy us enough time. Other than the two twenties in Dad's money clip, it was all we had left.

"Good afternoon, young man," Dad said to the clerk in his stage baritone. A wry smile turned up the corner of my mouth; even at a backroad gas station in the middle of nowhere, he couldn't help being the Uncanny Dante.

"How can I...

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Reviews

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Garvin's general descriptions of Las Vegas ring so true. I lived there for five years, so I spent an inordinate amount of time with each reference, combing through the memories that they unearthed. The Lightness of Hands may be a lifeline to teenage readers like Ellie who struggle with bipolar disorder and the loneliness that may go along with it. Garvin has given them an articulate voice to describe their feelings. This is a novel that I'm so glad they have, a deep-seated connection that speaks to them directly. I'm merely a delighted enthusiast...continued

Full Review (747 words)

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(Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).

Media Reviews

School Library Journal (starred review)
Using the unique, captivating backdrop of the field of magic, the author creates an unforgettable tale that is sure to help teens imagine what it's like to be on the verge of homelessness while also fighting mental illness. An important, moving portrayal of the way mental illness affects the life of a teenage girl.

Kirkus Reviews
Garvin's portrayal of Ellie's bipolar experience is exceptional; the world of magic is also superbly rendered. The story lags a bit in the middle, but its strengths more than make up for its shortcomings. Very, very good.

Publishers Weekly
Ellie's outlandish schemes are a little hard to swallow, but the heart of the story, a girl desperately trying to monitor her disorder and save her family, remains credible. Garvin (Symptoms of Being Human) uses his knowledge of magic and personal experience with bipolarism to add insight to this dramatic story as he skillfully evokes the traveling performers' gritty lifestyle and the enticement of illusion.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Tradition of Las Vegas Magicians

Welcome to Las Vegas SignEven though I lived in Las Vegas for five years (2012-2017), I never gave it much thought. Magicians were always there, on and off the Las Vegas Strip. David Copperfield's face was on that massive advertisement across the top of the MGM Grand. Mac King, the afternoon comedy magician at Harrah's, was always in any number of small Vegas magazines advertising every show and every kind of deal you could find there. The greatest touristy thrill for a non-native resident like me just trying to survive the Hell's-waiting-room summer heat was seeing the Amazing Johnathan's show at the Sahara. But reading The Lightness of Hands caused me to wonder: How and when did magicians become a thing in Las Vegas?

According to Vegas.com, Jack Kodell was the...

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Read-Alikes

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