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“If you could have ONE superpower, what would it be?”

Last May I posed this question to the teens on their blog, talking about my rational for selecting the power that I would want. I talked about the perks of flying, telepathy, and super strength; debated about invisibility and time travel; and finally settled on teleportation.

I say that I “settled” on teleportation, because it would be the most logical solution for traveling to see my family and friends on the occasional weekend off. For personal enjoyment, however, I would by and far select flying. But what if you couldn’t choose your superpower? What if your superpower was instead based on what you personally needed to get through the struggles of life?

Steven Amsterdam tackles this very idea in his latest book, What the Family Needed: A Novel. The book is separated by 7 different narrators, all from the same family. As the narrative shifts to different characters, time progresses and the reader meets the family members at different stages of their lives.

Each member of the family experiences a different superpower, based on the struggle they are experiencing at the time.  Fifteen year old Giordana gains the power of invisibility as she struggles to cope with her parents’ separation. The mother of two teenage boys, Natalie gains Olympian-worthy swimming abilities as she works to sort out an explanation for her younger son’s strange behaviors.

Ben, Sasha, Ruth, Peter, and Alek experience their own unique abilities as well, each growing in character as they rally to face their personal challenges with new-found strength. As the family overcomes their personal challenges, they gradually learn to shift their dependence away from their personal superpowers to an even greater strength—each other.

Amsterdam’s book explores family relationships and personal issues in a whole new light, providing readers with an entertaining yet thought-provoking read that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.

-Amber

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