“Okay, tell me which you want,” Alek asks his cousin at the outset of What the Family Needed. “To be able to fly or to be invisible?” And soon Giordana, a teenager suffering the bitter fallout of her parents’ divorce, finds that she can, at will, become as invisible as she feels. Later, Alek’s mother, newly adrift in the disturbing awareness that all is not well with her younger son, can suddenly swim with Olympic endurance. Steven Amsterdam’s incandescent novel follows the members of this gorgeously imagined extended family over three decades, as they each discover, at a moment of crisis, that they possess a supernatural power.
But instead of crimes to fight and villains to vanquish, the family confronts inner demons, and their extraordinary abilities prove to be not so much magic weapons but expressions of their fears and longings as they struggle to come to terms with who they are and what fate deals them. As the years pass, their lives intersect and overlap in surprising and poignant ways, and the real magic is revealed to lie not in their superpowers but in the very human and miraculous ways they are able to accept, protect, and love one another.