5 Star Reads, Book Reviews, Romance Novels, Young Adult

Review: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Buy the book here!
  • Page Count: 384
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQ+ Fiction
  • Content Warnings: Homophobia

Magic and mystery—some of what readers can expect in this coming of age story from author Caroline O’Donoghue.

When Maeve discovers a pack of tarot cards in the basement of St. Bernadette’s Catholic School, her popularity skyrockets. Every girl in the school is clamoring to receive one of Maeve’s eerily accurate readings. Everyone except Lily, Maeve’s ex-best friend. When Lily finally receives a reading, she draws a card that Maeve has never seen before. And the next day, Lily disappears without a trace.

Is Maeve to blame for Lily’s disappearance? Is there more to this mysterious tarot deck than meets the eye? Teaming up with Maeve’s older sibling, Roe, and a new cool friend, Fiona, Maeve sets out on a mission to find out what really happened to Lily, no matter what the cost.

All Our Hidden Gifts is a story about a girl who has made mistakes. Maeve and Lily’s friendship breakup was ugly and caused by Maeve’s desperation to fit in at school with a more “in crowd”. O’Donoghue contends with the imperfection of people through Maeve’s backstory. When Maeve begins to think she’s the one who caused Lily’s disappearance, the story shows young readers how to deal with the fact that we as people are not always right and sometimes make the wrong choice.

Maeve’s understanding of her mistakes and privileges is directly a part of her story. She sees the way rising homophobia in the town harms her older sister. She discovers the differences in experience of life in Ireland that her friend Fiona, one of the only People of Color in their town, has at school and beyond. She is checked in her financial privilege by Lily’s older sibling, Roe. Roe’s own relationship with gender is a fundamental part of the story.

Some readers might find Maeve a frustrating character, but I think there’s a lot for young people to learn from characters who make mistakes. Like that shunning a friend and wanting to be popular doesn’t make you a bad person forever. Maeve learns about accountability, empathy, and a bit of self-forgiveness. We are all flawed. It is up to us to fix it.

There’s a recurring theme of opposition to LGBTQ+ rights in this story and the rise of hateful action, which brings a not only topical twist to the story, but a much needed one. Magic might have taken Lily away, but the characters operate in their real world political struggles as well as their magical ones.

So maybe not every reader will find a magic pack of tarot cards like Maeve, but perhaps the book will motivate them towards activism and help readers draw parallels for crucial action.

All Our Hidden Gifts is about confronting one’s mistakes and defining personal identity. Each character is in their own journey towards defining personhood and this is a great YA read for many readers!

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