Author: Sophie Littlefield
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Published: October 12, 2010
Rating: 3.5 of 5
There isn’t much worth living for in Gypsum, Missouri—or Trashtown, as the rich kids call the run-down neighborhood where sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives. Hailey figures she’ll never belong—not with the popular kids at school, not with the rejects, not even with her cruel, sickly grandmother, who deals drugs out of their basement. Hailey never knew her dead mother, and she has no idea who her father was, but at least she has her four-year-old foster brother, Chub. Once she turns eighteen, Hailey plans to take Chub far from Gypsum and start a new life where no one can find them.
But when a classmate is injured in gym class, Hailey discovers a gift for healing that she never knew she possessed—and that she cannot ignore. Not only can she heal, she can bring the dying back to life. Confused by her powers, Hailey searches for answers but finds only more questions, until a mysterious visitor shows up at Gram’s house, claiming to be Hailey’s aunt Prairie.
There are people who will stop at nothing to keep Hailey in Trashtown, living out a legacy of despair and suffering. But when Prairie saves both Hailey and Chub from armed attackers who invade Gram’s house in the middle of the night, Hailey must decide where to place her trust. Will Prairie’s past, and the long-buried secret that caused her to leave Gypsum years earlier, ruin them all? Because as Hailey will soon find out, their power to heal is just the beginning.
Once I saw the cover of Banished I knew that I had to read it. The girl's eyes on the cover haunted me and almost screamed that she had a secret to tell. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I just could not help myself. With that said, the contents of the book beyond the cover did not meet my expectations, but still had something unique to offer.
The first peek into Hailey's life was difficult to read about. Living in a part of the city deemed 'Trashtown', Hailey has struggled to survive most every day at the hand of her grandmother's mental and physical abuse. When it comes to her school life there is little improvement. Not only is Hailey ridiculed by her classmates for being poor, but she barely has one friend to call her own. The only two sources of light in Hailey's dark life are her foster brother Chub and her dog Rascal. The comfort that Hailey takes from these two is quite endearing and reveals her as a genuine character.
The painful day to day existence that Hailey knows is soon rattled when she discovers she has the gift of Healing. She can mend those who have been injured, even those who are beyond repair. Just as Hailey is beginning to learn more about her gift, her aunt Prairie arrives and it launches the book into this fast paced and sometimes complex set of events. Soon Hailey, Prairie, Chub and Rascal are on the run and headed to Chicago, hiding from those who want to hinder Hailey's gift and from those who want to exploit it. There are two reasons I loved this turn in the book. The first is that I love the idea of being on the run. The thought of packing up quickly and running across the country is exhilarating. The second reason is that I absolutely and completely love Chicago. I think the combination of these two things allowed me to enjoy this book more than I might have otherwise.
In terms of character development I found that Sophie Littlefield did this quite well. Of the characters in the book I found that Chub and Hailey's grandmother stood out to me. I suppose this has to do with the juxtaposition of the innocent and the evil. Of the relationships, the one between Hailey's grandmother and Chub is quite compelling, but it could be rivaled by that of Hailey and Kaz. While Kaz only makes an appearance in the final chapters of the book it is clear that his character's importance will grow in a follow-up book. As Hailey's potential love interest, Kaz is really appealing. I only wish I had more time with him in this book.
My complaints about this book would be that it had both minor inconsistencies and sometimes the pace seemed irregular. As a result these two things often distracted me from the storyline. Despite these though I found that overall this book had an interesting premise as Hailey's healing ability is incredibly complex and mysterious as well. Overall the cliffhanger at the end leaves a lot to be desired in the series continuation. There is no followup book scheduled as of yet, but when it is released I will pick up a copy. If only to see how the cliffhanger unravels and whether or not Hailey and Kaz hit it off.