In this YA thriller from 1994, R.L. Stine tells the story of Ellie. Ellie and her father have just moved back to Shadyside after being gone for 14 years. Ellie was only two when they left town due to the trauma of her mother’s death. Though Ellie doesn’t remember, her father says that her mom died of appendicitis.
Her father’s not totally happy about returning to Shadyside but Ellie could really use a change of pace. Ellie recently broke up with her boyfriend because she discovered that he was cheating on her. How did she discover this? She has psychic powers, of course! It’s interesting how anyone who leaves Shadyside and then returns a few years later manages to develop psychic powers. It turns out that Ellie’s psychic powers aren’t just helpful when it comes to busting cheating boyfriends! They’re also good for discovering the dead body of Melinda, her best friend’s sister! And, not only that, but Ellie’s powers also offer up some clues about what really happened to her mother! Ellie has some mysteries to solve, whether she wants to or not. Who killed Melinda? What happened to her mother? And why is that cute but weird guy Brian stalking her?
The Mind Reader actually tells a pretty sad story. Every family in this book has some deep, terrible secret and it’s almost entirely due to terrible parenting. This is one of the few Stine books that left me worried as to just how the main character was going to be able to go on with her life after experiencing all of this. Still, I had to respect the fact that Stine stayed true to the book’s premise. There was no sudden amnesia. It didn’t turn out to be a dream. Ellie had psychic powers and they told her a lot of really big things at the worst possible time. That’s the way psychic powers work on Fear Street.
Anyway, I enjoyed The Mind Reader. It’s a quick read and some of Ellie’s vision are really macabre! I’m glad I’m not psychic.