The Probable Future , by Alice Hoffman
All the women in the Sparrow family are bestowed with a special ability the day they turn 13 years old. Some gifts are useful; like healing the sick, walking through fire or breathing under water, while some, like Jenny Sparrow, lack any obvious use at all; like dreaming other people’s dreams.
Jenny’s daughter, Stella, awakens on the day of her 13th birthday able to see how people are going to die, and when she confides in her hopeless, philandering father and asks for his help, he wishes to live up to her idolisation of him. Believing it to be a harmless game he tries to warn a woman of her impending murder, but when the murder takes place he becomes the prime suspect. So begins the tangled web of family-interconnectedness that draws three generations of Sparrow women back to their roots and to the men they share their lives with.
While I suspect the inevitable differences and resentments between mothers and daughters will ring true for women of all ages, especially those that have been both; what is really delightful about this book are the local superstitions and proverbs that you could believe still prevail in a rural town: natural witchcraft, you might call it. The locals believe that wearing something with red stitching will cure anything. Jenny Sparrow drops a knife at a restaurant and her mother portents a woman will come to the town; when she drops it again she knows that woman will stay.
I’m a real fan of books let your imagination off the leash a little – stories that remain firmly in the modern day yet have a touch of magic. In a world of technology, emails and politics, I’d like to believe in charming superstitions and ancient customs. It’s nice to imagine there are otherworldly ways to make sense of life, that magic exists, and that little signs are there to tell us which way to go if we would only listen…