16-year-old Trinity was orphaned at two and brought up by her no-nonsense grandmother in a remote part of Colorado. When her grandmother dies, she goes to live in New Orleans with her Aunt Sarah, a ‘beautiful successful single woman’ of 33 who works as a real-estate agent. Trinity’s memories of Colorado are idyllic: ‘lots of trees’, an ‘always-blue sky’ and a golden retriever called Sunshine to play with. In New Orleans, she feels like ‘a guest, a visitor’, but is anxious to be like everyone else. Trinity also has psychic powers – when a school-cheerleader, Jessica, disappears after playing an unpleasant trick on Trinity in a spooky house, her visions of Jessica are realistic enough to implicate her in the disappearance.
The underlying theme of this novel – finding oneself – is a good starting-point. Aunt Sarah tells Trinity that she can protect herself only if she knows who she is. At the end, Trinity realises, ‘sometimes what brought people together wasn’t that which made us the same’. Equally good are the perceptive observations of New Orleans, which is here recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The author clearly knows the city well, seeing it as ‘a world unto itself’ where ‘Sundays weren’t necessarily lazy, but rainy days were. It was like the city just went inside and held its breath’. But, on being driven through the devastated Ninth Ward, Trinity finds it ‘hard to imagine this barren stretch of weeds and garbage had once been a thriving community’.
Unfortunately, these gems are hidden within a story that is both confusing and uninvolving. Generally, the characters lack depth: Trinity is told at one point that she is ‘such an amazing person’, but her distinctive feature, the ‘dreams’ and visions that she has, is hardly unique in this type of literature. Page after page goes on red herrings, endless dialogue (often including ‘Omigod’) and cheesy descriptions of Trinity’s relationship with the school quarter-back, Chase, as they exchange looks and repeatedly brush hair off each other’s faces (‘He’d always been bigger than life to me, the drop-dead gorgeous football-player with the amazing body and killer smile’; ‘there was no way to describe his face, or the crazy rush that went through me’). Some of the female teenagers at whom the book is directed may find this stimulating; otherwise, patience will be required to yield the odd reward. Those who do persevere would best be 14 or over, as the book includes teenage-sex, swearing and a raunchy scene on Bourbon Street.