Jess, age 12, is a normal pre-teen girl in most ways, but she has a gift which enables her to sense things invisible to most people. As The Flask opens, her much-loved Aunt Edie has died, leaving Jess an old writing desk instead of the coveted grand piano on which she taught Jess to play. It is a difficult time too as Jess’s mother gives birth to Siamese twin boys. The narrative hinges around the eponymous flask which Jess finds in her aunt’s desk. In it Jess sees and senses things she cannot really understand but which she knows to be mysteriously connected to the twins, and especially to Clem, the weaker of the two.
Anxious days are faced as an operation to separate the critically ill babies is carried out. Played out against this is Jess’s changing relationship with Zoe, her best friend who is developing an interest in boys, and a mystery concerning her aunt which emerges from the old desk. Using the flask as a catalyst, Singer skilfully brings together these varied strands in the life of a girl who is on the threshold of adolescence: dealing with changes in family and friendships, examining matters of religious faith, and coming to terms with her own future.
The Flask will appeal greatly to girls who want something different from the more usual offerings for their age group. But the mystery of the flask and mounting suspense about the future of the Siamese twins should also win it many more readers. Highly recommended.