Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Naturals

The Naturals

Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
Hyperion Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-1423168232

The first twelve years of Cassie’s life were not exactly what most people would consider normal as she grew up in a rather strange environment. Her mother, Lorelai, was a fortune teller who used her considerable ability to read people to tell their ‘fortunes.’ Together she and Cassie traveled around, going to places where Lorelai could find people to pay for the services she offered. Five years ago Lorelai was murdered, and Cassie was the one who first entered the room where the murder took place. No is knows where Lorelai’s body was taken and no one knows who her killer was and why he or she killed Lorelai.

Since that terrible day Cassie has lived with her father’s relatives, kind-hearted Italian Americans who took Cassie into their hearts and their lives. She knows that they love her and care about her, but Cassie is not like them. She is a people reader, a girl who has experienced a terrible loss, and she is therefore unable to be ‘normal’ like everyone else.

One day a young man who looks as if he is around the same age as Cassie comes into the diner where Cassie works. Something about him is different and it isn’t long before Cassie finds out what that something is. The boy leaves a business card with his payment, and the card belongs to an FBI agent called Tanner Briggs. Cassie cannot imagine what the FBI wants with her, but she also cannot help wanting to find out what is going on. She goes to meet Agent Tanner and finds out that he heads a special program. Young people like Cassie work in the program and are trained to hone their “Naturals” abilities so that they can crack cold case murders. Naturals are people who have a natural gift to reading people, sensing emotions, detecting lies, and finding patterns in human behavior. Agent Tanner wants Cassie to join the team and it isn’t long before Cassie has left her life with her Nonna behind and has moved to a house in Washington D.C.

Cassie is going to live, and learn her craft, with four other Naturals. Michael can read people like she can. Dean can sense emotions, Lia is a human lie detector, and Sloan is like a human computer. Together it is hoped they will be able to crack cold cases that no one else has been able to solve, and thus make it possible for the FBI to put away killers and other criminals who have so far escaped justice.

Cassie’s fellow Naturals are a strange bunch and she does not really know what to think of them. Lia is manipulative and sometimes cruel, Sloan is a thief, Dean is a dark and brooding fellow, and Michael likes to play games. Cassie never quite knows where she stands with them, and it does not help that both the boys seem to be interested in her. Cassie is not used to being the center of attention.

Then the Naturals’ handlers start working on a trying to find a serial murderer. The Naturals are not supposed to work on active cases, but somehow they get interested in this new case. Cassie in particular is drawn to it, which is how she discovers that all the girls being killed are like her mother, Lorelai, in some way. Could it be that Lorelai’s killer has surfaced? Cassie cannot help wanting to get involved in this case. Maybe she will finally find out what happened to her mother after all.

This chilling novel will keep readers sitting on the edge of their seats. The author builds the tension in the narrative beautifully, keeping us guessing until the last possible minute, when the shocking truth is revealed.

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