YA Paranormal Review - "Echoes" by Marissa Lete
In anticipation for an upcoming podcast I am reviewing Marissa Lete's debut novel, Paranormal Young Adult thriller "Echoes." Marissa is the host of the "Creative Conversations" creative writing podcast and we will be having a talk about our experiences with the writing process in the coming week.
"Echoes" begins following the story of main protagonist Laura, a teenager who has the ability to hear echoes, sounds in her current location that were made exactly one year in the past. Laura has always had this ability, even as a child. In her youth she was not considered gifted but mentally ill. Her parents were disturbed by their young daughter's thoughts and enlisted the help of mental health professionals to sort things out. Laura was able to prove that these echoes were not just auditory hallucinations in her head but real conversations that people were having in the past. Her providers noted these abilities and she returned to normal life.
The parallels between being considered gifted and mentally ill spoke strongly to me throughout the story. Laura often struggles to keep her composure as past and present vie for attention within her mind. While character's "not in the know" often dismiss the odd behavior, it gives Laura a strangeness that keeps her isolated from many of her classmates. She does not enjoy going to places where there are large gatherings of people as the combined noise from today and one year ago compete with Laura's own thoughts. I ended up feeling that many young readers would relate to Laura's feelings, as though acknowledging that it is okay to be introverted and distanced from the bulk of society. Her thoughts, however unbelievable, were logical within the storytelling and accepted by her parents. In the story Laura's inner world is her super power and as the reader follows along with her echoes and intuitions they are gifted with Lete's assurances that their thoughts and feelings are valid and valuable as well.
Laura is not without her allies in the book. Her parents know about her ability, of course, and build her a house where there are no previous echoes. She has her own room that only she can enter. At school, her best friends Grace and Leo are never quick to judge and support her in her quietness. There is a strong but subtle push by Lete to demonstrate what healthy friendships for teenagers look like and how they can easily become embroiled in drama. Laura has the wisdom to know that the events of the day are not ultimate judgements and that by and by there will be a resolution. This gives her character an intelligence not often found in people her age and I feel it makes Laura a strong arch-type for any young reader to aspire to.
With this information the stage is set for the one year anniversary of Laura's move into her new house. She hears echoes of an unfamiliar boy and his mother bringing her family flowers to welcome them to the neighborhood. As the weeks pass she encounters this boy in her echoes more and more. How could she have forgotten about him? Are the echoes real or is she losing her mind? This is where we see Laura begin to break her shell and leave her comfort zone in an attempt to discover who this young man is and if he is real.
Echoes is an exciting debut effort for Lete as she leads her young readers through, twists, turns and "aha" moments that are both unique and interesting. There are some very complicated lessons Lete is attempting to instill here and as a young author herself she seems to be offering advice. Be patient with those you love. True friends will wait for you to come around. The world is not going to pause for you to be ready to meet your destiny. Letting go is difficult but necessary to spread your wings and fly away.
The teaching Lete offers that comes through the most brilliantly however is this: People are not going to understand your thoughts but they are an important, valuable part of who you are. She encourages her young audience to remember that being different is being special and that they too have traces of Laura's amazing gifts, wisdoms and insights within them as well.
Echoes is available on Amazon. Lete is planning on following up with two more books to complete a trilogy by 2023.