Zee can hear what you’re thinking and feel what you’re feeling. She sees herself through your eyes and what she sees changes who she is. Sometimes Zee is the precocious daughter of her four grown-ups. Other times, she’s a rough boy from Brooklyn, New York, playing basketball and getting into trouble.
Zee’s grown-ups are worried. They test Zee’s special powers and conspire to keep them secret. Zee figures out what they’re up to and fights back. Zee just wants to fit in, to meet the confusing expectations coming at her from all directions, but will losing sight of who she is put Zee in even greater danger?
Zee is a novel about chosen family, difference, and the power—and limits—of empathy. At the center of the story is Zee, a child with the ability to read minds and emotions. As Zee grows to young adulthood, her unusual abilities create challenges for her as she searches for her own path and identity. Zee’s trials are also a metaphor for the plight of women and femme-identified people in our society who are expected to be empathic and altruistic while given too little opportunity to consider what they, themselves, need and want.
Zee’s mother, Emma, is a Brooklyn community housing lawyer who has decided to defy her family and have a child on her own terms. Emma’s best friend Meena, a hot-tempered school psychologist, is helping Emma raise Zee. Emma’s other best friend, Malcolm, a brilliant but anxiety-ridden cognitive scientist living in Morningside Heights, is Zee’s sperm donor. Malcolm’s boyfriend Pedro, a struggling musician living with his elderly grandmother in the Bronx, is the only one of the Zee’s “four grownups” who has an inkling of what it means to have extra-sensory perception. Each of these adults are dedicated to Zee in their own way, but unsure how to help her cope with her special abilities.
The story alternates between the close third person points-of-view of the four adults, plus Zee’s own semi-omniscient point-of-view as an empath and a mind-reader. Resolution of the tale relies upon a small crack in the meta-fictional “fourth wall” as Zee herself argues for the benefits of happy endings, especially for members of marginalized communities.
ZEE, version française – Traduction: Sylvie Nicolas
Zee entend ce que vous pensez, et ressent ce que vous ressentez. À travers vos regards, Zee se voit elle-même, et cette vision la transforme. Parfois, Zee est la fille précoce de ses quatre adultes. D’autres fois, Zee est un ado voyou de Brooklyn, New York, un ado qui joue au basketball et s’attire des ennuis
Ses quatre adultes s’inquiètent. Ils testent ses facultés extrasensorielles et s’acharnent à les garder secrètes. Mais Zee voit clair dans leur jeu, anticipe leurs craintes et les déjoue. Elle veut s’intégrer, se mouler aux multiples attentes qui arrivent de tous bords tous côtés. Mais en perdant de vue qui elle est réellement, risque-t-elle de se mettre encore plus en danger ?
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The Future Fire, April 12, 2021:
“Zee is billed as a YA novel, though it has an appeal beyond that. Although the events are fictional and the story contains the speculative element of ESP, the underlying messages and realities ring true. Sokol’s novel provides food for thought about empathy, the nature of family, and the impact that trying to fulfil the expectations of those around us can have on our physical and emotional health, covering a lot of territory for a relatively short book.
As a side bonus, Zee is available in both English and French.”
- Click here to read the full review.
Mistikrak ! Littérature jeunesse, principalement en français, mettant en scène au moins un personnage noir ou métissé de descendance africaine et/ou caribéenne
“Zee est une histoire tout à fait singulière, tant au niveau de la manière dont le récit est raconté qu’au niveau de l’histoire elle-même.”
- Pour lire la recension complète, cliquez ici
Lurelu : La seule revue Québécoise exclusivement consacrée à la littérature pour la jeunesse
“Zee aborde des réalités telle l’homoparentalité et la nonbinairité, celle-là rarement mise en avant-plan dans la literature pour adolescents.”
Zee was named one of the “Best Books of 2020”:
“Zee was an amazing novel all about the nature of gender and family …. Its poetic writing took me right into Zee’s world.”
Jamieson Wolf, Author of Love and Lemonade
- Click here to read the full review