Alchemy by Margaret Mahy.
Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster: NY, 2003.

This book falls into the category of unique, like my Knock Your Socks Off Books. It is half social issues and half fantasy/alchemy. There is a little discussion of the science and philosophy behind the alchemy, rapt up in the mystery of Jess's situation.

Roland, a prefect and popular student, is manipulated by his Literature teacher into befriending Jess, who is the ultimate loner, because she is having personal problems. As he interacts with Jess, he is drawn into her life because of the mystery and similarities to his own life. Knowing her is a way to learn more about his own predicament. However, focusing on her means estrangement from his girlfriend and risking disfavor with his mom and friends.

The story has depth for one so short and some interesting concepts. It possibly could have been developed a little more. One of the concepts is the use of spoonerisms, which is unusual itself. Jess rearranges words in her dialogue for a twist of meaning that also fits the situation. I also think the book should be shelved as YA (though the cover says 12 & up), because the protagonist is an older teen with definite teen issues.
related-alchemy, magic, magicians, dating, spatial matter, telepathy, spirit walking

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