Nia feels like she doesn't fit into her family, but is Emlyn the person who can help her find a place where she does fit?
Nia feels like she has nothing left. She's the only one in her family who's going to miss their farm high on the mountain. Everyone else is delighted to be moving to town. But she misses her flowers, the peace and quiet, and the home she grew up in. Instead of unpacking, she dresses up in some of her mother's clothes and takes the dog, Fly, for a walk. Fly gets away from her, and a boy she saw on their way into town stops to help her. His name is Emlyn Llewelyn, and everyone is suspicious of him and his father and the chapel they live in. It's a bad place, her sisters tell her, something awful happened there. But that afternoon, when Emlyn invites her home with him, she goes. The chapel is bright with colors and butterflies hang from the ceiling. Emlyn's father is there and he wants to paint her picture. Nia feel like she's found a place to belong, a place where she's not Nia Can't Do Anything, where no one laughs at her because she can't write or draw or sing or play.
When she leaves, Emlyn makes her promise to talk to her father about letting him buy Fly. He really wants to have her. But instead, her father gives Fly to Emlyn's cousin, Gwyn Griffiths. Nia can't bring herself to tell Emlyn, but one day, Emlyn finds out that his cousin Gwyn has the dog. There's been bad blood between them for a long time, and there's a terrible fight. Emlyn is winning, when suddenly Gwyn steps back and spreads his arm, fingers outstretched like cat's claws, and all the dark power that lived in the graveyard where they are fighting seems to flow into his hands. There is a moment of stillness, and then Gwyn drops his arms and lets the power go. Emlyn steps up and knocks him over with one blow. Then he runs. Nia goes to Gwyn and asks why he let Emlyn win. "He has to win," Gwyn said. "He's my cousin and he hates me so he has to win."
Nia's heard rumors about Gwyn being a magician, and now she knows those rumors are true. But what does it mean, and how will it affect her life? Can Gwyn's magic help her stop being Nia in the Middle, Nia Can't Do Anything, once and for all?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.