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Jennie Hansen
Thursday, March 03 2011

LDS Fiction: Gifted by Karey White

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Okay, I was skeptical of this book to begin with.  I'd heard just enough about it to expect some kind of paranormal nonsense.  Then too, the cover is pink, really pink, and the little girl's eyes are an intense blue, suggesting something quirky. I was delighted to discover I was wrong and that I loved Gifted by Karey White.  There is a hint of something paranormal to the story---or maybe not. And though the little girl is different; I wouldn't label her quirky.

Hansen_gifted

Susan and Brent Weller have been married a long time.  They've wanted a child from the beginning of their marriage, but even with all of the usual therapies and three failed in vitro attempts they fail to become pregnant.  After turning to adoption, their wait is long, but at last they get the long awaited call.  A couple in New Mexico have been killed in a terrible accident, the woman living only long enough to deliver a premature baby girl.  The only relative is an elderly feeble aunt who can't care for her.  Susan heads for the distant hospital at once to be with the infant and her whole world becomes brighter and more beautiful as she takes on the role of mother.  Brent too falls in love with this precious gift they call Anna.  Their family becomes the dream they'd long yearned for.

As time goes on, little by little, the couple discover their beloved daughter isn't like other children.  Everything is brighter and better in her presence.  No one fights around her and other children seem to learn more quickly in classes they share with her. She learns quickly and becomes the protégé of an elderly piano teacher. She is never ill or injured. Her unique gift becomes a source of concern to her parents and they fear that if others discover her special qualities, Anna won't have a chance to live a normal life.  Yet they can't help wondering if they have a responsibility to help their daughter use her gifts some way instead of hiding them.

Problems arise when Anna begins school and there is a noticeable difference in academic progress between the class she is in and the other classes.  Her parents transfer her to a school for gifted students where there's less chance someone will notice if her classmates excel.

From the time Anna starts school there is one little girl Anna is particularly drawn to. Kelsey comes from a broken home.  Her mother ran off and her father is cruel and abusive to her, her brother, and his girlfriend who lives with them in a seedy, rundown house where Kelsey must sleep in a hall.  Susan and Brent invite Kelsey to their home, include her in activities they plan for their daughter, care for her

when she is ill, and come to love her as though she too was their daughter--only each night she must go home to her own family. The treatment Kelsey receives from her father breaks all three of the Wellers' hearts.

Anna would do anything for her friend.  She wishes Kelsey could actually be a part of her family, to have loving parents, and to be allowed to experience good things.

To say more would spoil the story for others. Suffice it to say, Anna's choices and her mother's insights will stay with the reader for a long time.

The characters in this book are drawn well, and there is a solid progression of their understanding throughout the book.  The plot drags a little in places, but not enough to hurt the story. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the author's use of language which is smooth and beautiful. The acknowledgement page runs on like an Academy Award winner who thanks everyone from his agent to his dog and marks the author as a first timer, but once the story begins it is hard to remember Gifted is White's first novel.  I expect to see great things from this writer in the future.

Karey White is a Utah native, attended Ricks College and BYU, and is busy writing her next book.  She and her husband are the parents of four children.

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GIFTED  by Karey White, published by Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, softcover, 210 pages, $14.99

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