The Awakening of Sunshine Girl(The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #2) by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel (4 out of 5)
This is the second book in the Young Adult series. The first- The Haunting of Sunshine Girl- was one of my favorite Young Adult titles last year. This follow-up sets things straight real quick when Sunshine turns 16 and grows into her powers as a Luiseach after passing her test (what a test. Holy shit!) in the first book in the series. These newfound powers are everywhere and anywhere, and sometimes it’s a bit too much for Sunshine to handle. For the record, if you haven’t read the first, Ms. Sunshine is NOT a shrinking violet..so for these spirits to overwhelm her is really saying something. That second chapter and her feelings about this do set a tone for the whole novel that I found hard to ignore the rest of the book. She decides to train with her mentor Aidan, and they clash, clash, clash. She doesn’t like his crappy nonexistent answers to the very important question of why he gave her up all those years ago, and he doesn’t like her deep and abiding commitment to the people in her life, not limited to and including her mother, whom Aidan endangered as part of her big test in the first book. A bit much to take in? Read the first one and then go right into this one when it comes out. Sunshine’s training is as utterly bladder-emptying as her test in the first novel was, and she’s facing all sorts of things she would rather not face, including her long-denied and growing feelings for her friend Nolan. Just the sort of thing you would expect of a teen girl, but add all the Luiseach stuff in and you really have yourself a confused and frightened teenager with nerves and balls of steel. Sunshine’s spirit is never more present than here, when she’s forced to confront all of the things that she’s put off confronting, yet there’s more vulnerability than before and these are all character traits that make the novel and its heroine more likable, if that’s possible. And believe me, I like this girl, big-time. My hope is that you’ll check out these two titles and give the series a chance. Better yet, recommend it to someone!
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl is available from Weinstein Books, which is an imprint of Perseus. It came out March 1st- go get a copy!