Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 15
- Grade: 7 to 10
- Reading age: 12 to 15
The year is 2030, and climate change is making life on Earth more challenging. Fourteen-year-old Jasmine Guzman is struggling to come to terms with the abduction of her twin sister, Jade, and her mother’s illness. Things go from bad to worse when a series of bizarre occurrences make Jasmine wonder if she’s losing her mind. But, with help from Raphael, a boy at her new school, Jasmine learns she actually has special powers that are putting her life in danger.
Most surprising, she learns that her sister isn’t actually missing … Jasmine just needs to look in the right place: The-Place-in-Between, where the demons dwell.
About the author
Mary Jennifer Payne’s writing has been published in journals, anthologies, and magazines in Canada and abroad. She is the author of several YA graphic novels and the YA novel Since You’ve Been Gone. She teaches special education with the Toronto District School Board and lives in Toronto.
Excerpt: Finding Jade: Daughters of Light (by (author) Mary Jennifer Payne)
It’s my first day of grade nine. I’m standing at the front desk in the office at Riverdale, my new high school.
And I think I’m losing my mind again.
“But this is where I’m supposed to go,” I say. I pull out my acceptance letter, hand it to the secretary, and plaster a smile across my face. As Mom always says, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
“Sorry, Jasmine,” the secretary begins, sliding the letter back across the desk at me. There’s this massive silver ring with a weird, blue-sky coloured stone on her right index finger. I can’t help staring at it. “You need to attend Beaconsfield. They’re expecting you.”
I can’t believe it. My acceptance letter is sitting there on the desk, complete with a cheesy welcome message from the principal. It’s pretty obvious I’ve been accepted to this school, but she’s refusing to even look at the letter.
“But I’m supposed to go here.” I point at the acceptance box, which is clearly ticked with a black check mark. Every last atom in my body is shrieking with rage. I want to shout at this woman, but know doing that will only make things worse — if they can get any worse.
I slide the letter toward her again. My hands are shaking. I feel like a volcano that’s ready to blow. The morning bell rings.
“Beaconsfield is that new school, right?” I ask through gritted teeth. “It’s at least a twenty-minute bus ride from here. There’s no way I’m supposed to go there.”
“You’ll attend Beaconsfield,” she says flatly, running her well-manicured fingers through her bleached hair.
“Can I speak to someone else about this, then?” I ask, digging my nails into the fleshy part of my palm to keep from screaming. I look down. Tiny crescent-shaped nail marks dent my skin.
“Sorry. Everyone else is busy.”
That’s when I notice that the office is nearly empty. Other than this weirdo secretary, there’s just an elderly caretaker dumping out wastepaper baskets into a large garbage bag. And he doesn’t even seem to notice us.
I open the office door and check the hallway to see if my friends Desiree and Aisha are waiting for me. Maybe they’ll have better luck convincing this insane woman to let me into class. But they’ve already gone to their homeroom classes, likely thinking I’d be right behind them.
I go back in and glare at the secretary. This is so stupid. I practically live around the corner. There’s no way I can be out of district or anything like that.
“Okay,” I say, “I’ll call my mom. Believe me, she’s going to come down here and lose it if you tell her everyone’s too busy to see her.” I fold my arms across my chest and wait for her reaction.
The secretary gives me this little knowing smile, like we’re sharing a secret, like she somehow knows that Mom is in the hospital getting treatment right now and can’t be reached.
Then she takes off her black-framed glasses, rests her forearms on the desk, and leans toward me as if she’s about to share her deepest, darkest secrets.
“Jasmine, you have no choice in this matter. You must go to Beaconsfield,” she says, her tone serious. I want to ask who died and made her God, but I don’t think that would go over very well.
“Come on,” I say. “You know not letting me in is crazy. I live, like, two minutes away. Kids from my junior high always go here.”
“We’re done having this discussion.” Her calm attitude makes the situation even more infuriating.
I pick up the letter and rattle it in her face. “Can’t you read?” I shout.
The woman shakes her head. “Go to Beaconsfield, Jasmine,” she says, before getting up and walking across the room to the photocopier.
Dumbfounded, I snatch my knapsack off the floor, open the zipper, and stuff my acceptance letter inside. I’m so angry I want to kick things. Instead, I fling open the office door so that it hits the brick wall behind it with a satisfying bang and storm out.
Then I reluctantly make my way to Beaconsfield Collegiate.
It’s only as I’m climbing the stone steps to enter Beaconsfield that I realize something. The secretary hadn’t even looked at my acceptance letter. So how did she know my name?
This may interest teens enough to hope for more information in upcoming installments.
A touch of forbidden romance, a few Alice in Wonderland references, and a twist of heavenly proportions have left me glad that this is the first of what will be a series.
Canadian Children's Book News
Payne has combined a dystopian setting with the fantasy elements of angels and demons and supernatural powers.
“True page-turning appeal.”
Quill & Quire
An intriguing sounding series.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
An intriguing start to a series.
An inventive read with thought-provoking themes.