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Spoonbenders

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Spoonbenders is a weird, funny, heartwarming tale about a family of gifted people, the Amazing Telemachus Family. Teddy is the consummate con man. He's all flash and style, with no real psychic ability, just an incredible way with sleight of hand and reading people. He meets Maureen McKinnon (and eventually, Telemachus), at a university study seeking those gifted with "abilities" and from the start it's clear that she is the real deal. She's truly gifted with amazing abilities and she's a charming beauty, to boot. They marry and along come the children: Frankie, Irene and little Buddy. Frankie has telekinesis, but it sort of only works when it wants to and even then, sometimes to horrible ends. Irene is a human lie detector, so much so that her family and loved ones have to learn how to answer her questions in Alex Trebek style. Then there's sweet Buddy, who can tell the future. He's a very quiet boy and, due to his erratic ability to predict the future, lives in a world where he is experiencing multiple points of time, all the time, but more on that later.

Spoonbenders takes place across different time periods and each chapter focuses on a different character, from their perspective. It jumps between 1995, when Irene's 14 year old son Matty first discovers his power, astral projection, to back in 1973 when the Amazing Telemachus Family had their moment of fame on the Mike Douglas Show. This was the point that the family was supposed to shoot into nationwide stardom, but instead, they were debunked by Teddy's lifelong nemesis, The Astounding Archibald. Unfortunately, the reason for this is that little 5 year old Buddy had a freak out and it ruined the part where Maureen was supposed to come out and wow the audience, but instead, she dealt with Buddy's breakdown.

Fast-forward to the present (1995) and things aren't so good for the Telemachuses. Due to an unforeseen tragedy (except by Buddy, the seer of the future), Maureen is out of the picture. Teddy's still the man and spends each day finding a new lovely to charm, just to "fall in love a little" each day. Plus, it helps him keep up his sleight of hand skills. Irene and her son Matty have been forced to move in with Teddy, because Irene got fired from her job. Turns out working in accounting and being able to tell when embezzlers are lying isn't all that good for the career. Now she works at Aldi and she and Matty barely scrape by. Her brother Frankie has fallen victim to multi-level marketing scheme after scheme, and along with a nasty gambling habit, he has managed to find himself neck deep in debt to his father's old Mob pal, Nick Pusateri, Sr., who also happens to currently be on trial for murder. This is pretty bad, in and of itself, but his wife Loretta, his stepdaughter Mary Alice (AKA Malice) and young twins, Cassie and Polly, are none the wiser that he is playing a dangerous financial game with people who don't take kindly to late payments. Then there's Buddy, now in his 20's but living practically in silence, puttering around the house taking on weird projects like making the basement into a sort of bunker and digging a ginormous hole in the backyard. No one knows what he is up to; it's just what Buddy does and only he knows his reasons - but he definitely has reasons. Just because the rest of the family thinks he lost his powers doesn't make it so.

Once Matty discovers his astral projection ability, he doesn't know who to tell, since his mom won't speak of the glory days of the Amazing Telemachus Family and Grandpa Teddy is always doing his own thing. When he takes on an apprentice job with Uncle Frankie for the summer doing electrical work, the two start to bond and Frankie couldn't be more happy with Matty's news. Maybe this is the break he needs to settle his money score, but his latest plan couldn't be more dangerous. Meanwhile, Irene has met a man online named Joshua and the two begin a long distance relationship that makes things start to look up for Irene, but can any relationship survive her abilities? Then there's Teddy and his new crush, Graciella... Puseteri. As in Nick Jr's wife. As in the wife of the son who might just testify against his father in that murder trial. Oh, this family and their ability to attract trouble. And speaking of trouble, Destin Smalls, CIA agent, has come back into their lives, hoping that some of Irene or Frankie's children have powers. Turns out that study Teddy and Maureen were part of all those years ago was fronted by the CIA and Mo went to work for them, with Destin Smalls as her handler. His division is about to get shut down and he is desperate for someone like Maureen to bring back the magic and help him hunt spies. He's the last face Teddy wants to see again, but there he is, invading their lives once more. How will it all play out? Unless you have Buddy's abilities, you'll have to read the story for yourself. All I can say is that Spoonbenders is a delightful read and a wonderful story and I enjoyed it thoroughly. If Irene was here, she'd tell you that's the honest truth.



-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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