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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
EN: A Girl Energy-Bending between Worlds by Michelle Reynoso is the first book in The Girl, the Pendant, and the Portal series. Faith's entire life changed when her mother died. Now she's living in her brother's house under his guardianship and she's stuck at a new school away from her best friend. She does her best to avoid the other students just to get through every day. For some reason, her brother seems to think she messes everything up, which makes her all the more determined to prove him wrong. When she ends up grounded on the anniversary of her mother's death, her best friend surprises her and the two sneak out to a house in the middle of nowhere which starts a series of strange events. After she finds a mysterious necklace, her life takes a turn with strange threats from a school bully and blackout trips to another world where she discovers not only does she have the ability to manipulate energy (EN) but a mysterious being has set his eyes on her.
Faith is still trying to navigate her new life after her mother's death. At first, she thinks she's losing her mind as she finds herself suddenly in other places and then back to find hours have passed. The mystery of her sudden displacements quickly builds up until she discovers she's not losing her mind but visiting this other world which revolves around energy. Michelle Reynoso bends time and energy to create this other world which has Faith as the key to solving their problems. But finding answers isn't so simple as Reynoso weaves in a hero's journey in which Faith must first learn to harness her new powers under the guidance of The Girl who takes on a teaching role.
The other characters stem from her old life which helps keep her connected to who she is. Her best friend Kiara is her rock and helps keep her living life by sneaking out and bending the rules. Reynoso incorporates a touch of romance when she reconnects with Paul and things seem to be picking up where they left off. This adds a touch of normalcy and lightness to the sudden chaotic turn in her life. The tone of voice is spot-on, channeling the attitude of a teenager where at times she's a bit hardened after all she's gone through. EN is a brilliant YA adventure exploring themes of changes, friendship, family, loss, and the power it takes to become a hero.