book review: mind noise by helen howell

"Different" has had a mixed history when applied to people. "Different" can mean "wrong", but it can also mean "special". Sometimes it means both at the same time.

Helen Howell's Mind Noise portrays an adolescent boy whose difference is both a tremendous gift and a curse. Mikey can hear the thoughts of others -- whether he wants to or not. Just like it can be difficult for a "normal" person to pretend they didn't overhear something when they really did, Mikey struggles with keeping straight what he doesn't know and what he does.

The story follows Mikey's progress as he is tutored in how to control his gift... and groomed for other purposes.

What I liked best about Mind Noise were its ambiguities. The story itself is told clearly and in a straightforward manner, but the motives, actions, and plans of the characters are never black-and-white. The ambiguous ending especially was pleasing, and I could see it launching all sorts of discussions.

The language, story length and the age of the main characters make this book suitable for adolescents, but adults will enjoy it too.