Review: The Grift, by Debra Ginsberg

The victim of childhood abuse and neglect, Marina Marks developed the skills that many children in such circumstances acquire – the ability to read people with a survivor’s instantaneous accuracy. Following a scheme set in motion by her drug addicted mother and an eerie encounter with an old woman who claims she truly has the second sight, the little girl becomes a psychic, a career she holds on to as an adult as the novel opens. After starting a new life in California, however, events unfold to completely change her idea of who and what she is.

As the cover art suggests, the word grift is only one letter away from gift, and this is the fine line Marina walks throughout the novel. From the beginning she doesn’t see herself as a con artist, merely a “counselor” of sorts who reads people instead of fortunes. She carries a sense of mild disdain for her clients, a feeling which makes it easier to relieve them of their money. Her self-definition fails, however, once she starts actually seeing ghosts and foretelling the future with frightening accuracy. In the end, Marina must redefine her notions of reality and of herself, a transformation that is not without consequences.

The Grift is a well-written story. The plot is original, the characters are engaging, and the author does an admirable job of handling a wide variety of viewpoints with accuracy and skill. The protagonist acts in ways we would expect of one who suddenly finds the world changed, seemingly overnight. It’s a touch that lends credibility to her character and interest for the reader. A good read for a rainy day.

08 September 2008


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