Book Blurb:Maybe, occasionally, some of the pictures I saw in teacups were not for the tea drinkers. Maybe some of them were for me.
Marnie Wells knows that she creeps people out. It’s not really her fault; her brother is always in trouble, and her grandmother, who’s been their guardian since Mom took off is…eccentric. So no one even bats an eye when Marnie finds an old book about reading tea leaves and starts telling fortunes. The ceremony and symbols are weirdly soothing, but she knows—and hopes everyone else does too—that none of it’s real.
Then basketball star Matt Cotrell asks for a reading. He’s been getting emails from someone claiming to be his best friend, Andrea Quinley, who disappeared and is presumed dead. And while they’d always denied they were romantically involved, a cloud of suspicion now hangs over Matt. But Marnie sees a kindred spirit: someone who, like her, is damaged by association.
Suddenly the readings seem real. And, despite the fact that they’re telling Marnie things about Matt that make him seem increasingly dangerous, she can’t shake her initial attraction to him. In fact, it’s getting stronger. And that could turn out to be deadly.
"I couldn't pretend anymore. I had to make my skeletons dance. If I was going to have to be creepy, I figured I may as well find a way to make it interesting."
Marnie is counting down the days until she can escape her home town and the fact everyone knows everything about each other- including what they know of her dysfunctional family. To pass the time, Marnie gives tea leaf reading to some girls from school, a hobby she taught herself just for fun. But when her readings end up being accurate, she gets more attention. A girl went missing, and the girl's friend is convinced Marnie can help discover the truth.
I knew nothing about this book until I received it in my monthly Litjoy book box subscription last year- seriously, this book received no hype which baffles me because it was really good. Once I read the synopsis and discovered that it was a YA mystery with a potential psychic flair, heck yeah I was excited to read it! There were multiple mysteries that went on during the story, one big and blatant and a few others that I never saw coming and were sneaky and subtle. I had so many possible suspects going through my mind, but I was not sure what I should suspect them of- which crime were they involved in? Who is really the victim in this book? That, right there, is the big mystery.
I enjoyed the fact that the mystery that is first introduced when the story starts is not the mystery that we discover by the end of the book. There were plenty of twists and surprises that I was fully engaged with the book the entire read and I had a hard time putting it down because I wanted to know more.
This was a dark book dealing with death, drugs, overdose and despair- don't go into it expecting rainbows and unicorns because you will be sadly disappointed. YA mysteries are one of my favorite genres to read, I find them to be compelling, relatable, twisty and at times dark. The Leaf Reader had a nice balance between the mystery as well as character development.
Marnie, our narrator, began the book pretty aimless, just costing by life with her one distant friend, not really self aware or aware of the goings on in her world. She was so closed off as a person, focusing so much on her flaws and family dysfunction that everyone else looked so shiny. By the end of the story, Marnie was a completely different person. Fully aware of her skills and worth, appreciative of her family regardless of what they looked like, and collecting new friends. I liked Marnie, she was a normal girl who picked up an interesting hobby, she was so human and real, with flaws and jagged edges that made her someone I rooted for. I also just need to do a shout out to how wonderful I found G. Clara, Noah and Cecilia to be as supporting characters- even Jimmy too, each used in a different way to help Marnie see the bigger picture.
Can I just say hallelujah for the fact that this was not a romance? At times, YA is so bogged down with creating a romance in a story that does not need it because love (cough, cough, sex) sells. Well, there was the start of something that could have been a romance but Marnie was unsure of her own feelings towards said person and it never went anywhere, which fit the tone of the book perfectly- and it was never the main focus of the plot (the last chapter was completely perfect in my opinion).
This was my first book by Emily but I would gladly read more from her in the future. She was able to deliver a unique read with enough mystery to drag me in and keep me in. I recommend this to older YA and adult readers who are looking for a different kind of mystery.