Title: Clarity
Author: Kim Harrington
ISBN: 9780545230506
Pages: 246 pages
Publisher/Date: Point, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., c2011.

“You don’t want to kill me,” I said.
“Of course I don’t, Clare. But I have to.”
If I wasn’t already bleeding, with the room tilting and swaying, I would have slapped myself. I never saw this coming. I had let my personal feelings cloud my judgment. And now I was looking down the barrel of a gun. (1)

Clarity “Clare” Fern is a psychic who receives visions from touching objects. She, her mother, and her brother are all involved in the family business of giving psychic readings, with her brother Perry able to talk to ghosts and her mother able to read people’s minds (to Clare and Perry’s constant annoyance). Clare hopes that her powers can come in handy when she’s called upon to assist in the murder of a tourist in their small town. She has more than one reason to say no, especially when the mayor’s son is her cheating ex-boyfriend (“It was a mistake” — HA not likely) and the new detective in town’s son is a non-believer. But that’s before her brother becomes the prime suspect for the crime. Now, not knowing who she can trust or turn to, Clare is forced to question who people she’s known her whole life really are.

I LIKED this book, and it was a joy to finish off 2011 with this book. It was the perfect combination of mystery and romance and action. You have an escalating body count as people connected to the initial murder go missing and/or turn up dead. There are multiple suspects and multiple motives examined, all with (pardon the pun) clarity and realism. And you have the ever popular love triangle that is much more believable than some of the other ones I’ve seen recently. And it all comes to a riveting climax that keeps you on the edge of your seat and reading until the very end. It’s an enjoyable roller coaster ride.

Clarity was a clearly developed, multifaceted character, and so were the rest of the people in her life. Perry is scared out of his wits, and Clarity’s loyalty to her brother, although understandably called into question, never falters completely. Her confused and torn feelings toward both her ex-boyfriend Justin and the new detective’s hot son Gabriel are relatable. At the same time she’s trying to forgive Justin’s one drunken mistake, she’s also trying to decide if she can forgive Gabriel’s skepticism about her gift. It’s the known vs the unknown, and I for one have a good feeling about where her heart is heading at the end of the book.

There’s never a good way to say this without making me sound like a prude, but although the book references sexual acts and drinking, Clarity doesn’t partake in it and only hears about it second-hand. But there’s still enough suspense and action that you don’t miss the more controversial elements that teen fiction has become famous in having. Bravo!

This debut novel is a great first book, and while the ending comes to a satisfying conclusion, I’m hoping for a sequel. Clare is only sixteen in this summer mystery, and I’m hoping for at least one more book where we can see her in school and interact with more classmates that might or might not care for her special powers. Plus, maybe I’ll showcase my own psychic abilities and predict correctly whether Clare choses Justin or Gabe.