All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue
Expected Publication: March 2021 by Walker Books US
Genre(s): Young Adult, Supernatural, Paranormal, LGBTQ+
Thank you so much Pansing for sending me an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review! All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue is available at all good bookstores.
An exciting page-turner with an amazingly diverse and inclusive cast of characters, All Our Hidden Gifts is another book that brilliantly embodies what being a teenager is like, though with extra touches of the supernatural and paranormal.
I love how natural just about everything reads in this book—from the dialogue to the characters and the plot. Diversity and inclusivity doesn’t feel forced here. I appreciate how issues like racial discrimination, prejudice and discrimination against the non-binary, and more of which fits under the general umbrella of discrimination against anything that and anyone who doesn’t conform to society’s accepted norms, are handled here. The way Maeve’s ignorance on certain topics gets called out and she is also educated on those aforementioned issues, is done well.
I also greatly appreciate the characters not freezing each other out forever after disagreements and how Maeve grows as a character. She can be a brat and self-centered but she makes sincere efforts to change. The part where she learns that people will not want to forgive you even if you apologize? That’s my favorite. It’s advice everyone should take to heart because not everything can be forgiven with just words.
Other than that, I’m surprised that the insta-love doesn’t feel like insta-love here. Sure, I thought it was ridiculous at first because hello? Roe’s sister is missing and you wanna sex him up? Also, Roe, your sister is missing but you wanna sex her ex-best friend up?! But then, the more I read the book, the more I thought about it and how my teenage years were like, it just makes sense. Most of us have been hormonal, stupid teens once, and this is practically the same. It also helps that Maeve isn’t thinking about Roe 24/7 and she does focus on her duties when it’s time. So, why can’t Maeve lust after Roe while feeling guilty for his missing sister and vice versa? People can multitask, compartmentalize and also get distracted. Why can’t fictional characters be the same?
The side plot with Aaron was a little too out there, in my opinion. I don’t know how common groups like his are in Ireland, but his part of the story feels out of place. I think that if it had been more developed or involved in the main plot, then it wouldn’t have stuck out like a pothole in a road.
Another thing that’s a bit of a stretch is the gaining of powers by characters that don’t have an inclination or inherent talent/ability which allows them to be better in magic (or, “sensitives” as this book calls them). Like, spellcasting and potions brewing makes sense since those normally come hand-in-hand with the witch aspect. Ghosts and paranormal activities make sense too since tarot reading has been used magical and mystical practices. But, how does someone who’s not a “sensitive” gain powers like healing and electricity when all they did was cast a spell or two with the help of a sensitive? I think it would’ve been much more realistic of a choice for them to be able to see, hear or touch ghosts instead of the aforementioned powers as a mark of them not coming out entirely untouched by their experience.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed reading All Our Hidden Gifts. There were some typos in the ARC that confused me for a moment, but that didn’t stop me from breezing through the story in two days!