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3.9 56
by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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Nothing is beyond Kristi Carmichael’s disdain—her hippie high school, her friend Jacob, her workaholic mom. Yet for all her attitude and her mind-reading abilities, Kristi has a vulnerable side. She can hear the thoughts of her fellow students, calling her fat and gross. She’s hot for Gusty Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school, but of


Nothing is beyond Kristi Carmichael’s disdain—her hippie high school, her friend Jacob, her workaholic mom. Yet for all her attitude and her mind-reading abilities, Kristi has a vulnerable side. She can hear the thoughts of her fellow students, calling her fat and gross. She’s hot for Gusty Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school, but of course, she’s sure he thinks she is disgusting. And she’s still mad at her father, who walked out on them two years ago. Soon, a school project brings her together with Gusty, her father comes home and drops a bombshell, and a friend comes out of the closet, and suddenly she is left doubting that she can read people at all.

Bitingly funny but ultimately poignant and positive, this YA novel is completely on the mark.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Wearing skirts she's made out of Mylar balloons or potato sacks, shirts she's sewed out of torn umbrellas or her absentee dad's abandoned clothing, narrator Kristi marches to her alternative high school, prepared to take on a world that hates her-she's pretty sure of it, given that she can read minds. Ryan, far outstripping the level of plotting and characterizations in her debut, Shadow Falls, turns in an exceptional second novel. Although Kristi is hostile to her mother, classmates and teachers, and genuinely nasty to total strangers, she makes herself vulnerable to readers. She is also consistently funny in a cynical, teenage way: "I live in a suburb of a suburb. I'm surrounded by the offspring of professional people who attend parent-teacher meetings and volunteer on Election Day." Events cast doubt Kristi's mind-reading skills, but given the author's solid portraiture, readers will nevertheless want to trust Kristi, even before she learns to trust herself. Ryan works in both a romance and a divorce, and reverses Kristi's instinctive satirizing of people who care about her-and does it all with an abundance of wit. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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KLIATT - Aimee Cole
Ryan has crafted an honest and endearing look at the inner life of an extremely likeable teenager who seems to have psychic tendencies. Kristi has a father who left home, a mother who works late every night, a touchy-feely school, and an ex-best friend turned enemy, as well as an unrequited crush. Listening to what everyone thinks about her is exhausting. Kristi must shut out her mother's sad thoughts when they're home alone together, and at school she's forever dodging the gross fantasies of the boys who stare and send their thoughts her way. Worst of all, however, are the comments that float towards her from Gusty, a boy she has a crush on, who labels her as "sick." Armed with her ear buds piping music into her head, her cat who constantly purrs affirmation and affection, and her snarky humor, Kristi is able to face some tough situations. However, with some real contemplation, Kristi may discover that perhaps her psychic powers aren't accurate. Ryan's novel humorously explores the mind of a teenager grappling with issues of self-esteem, creativity, and self-worth. Teens will identify with Kristi and care about what she's going through. Reviewer: Aimee Cole
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Kristi Carmichael reads people's minds. She knows exactly what they think of her, her problem with body image and the very unusual clothes she designs for herself. She and her mother live in the same house, but rarely talk. In fact, she is careful to make sure that she is not alone with her mother for long and she sure doesn't want her mother to know that the allergic reaction her mother is having is because of the cat Kristi keeps locked, literally padlocked, in her bedroom. At school, Kristi struggles to fit in. She has a crush on her former best friend's brother and she is mildly interested in the new boy who shows an interest in her. But more than anything, she is protecting herself. She has built an unlovable persona around herself in the wake of a family crisis and it is not until her dad flies in for a visit that those relationships and their impact are clear even to Kristi herself. Young adults will both love and hate Kristi. Her story mirrors the stories of many high school girls as they deal with their self-image in the midst of fluctuating circumstances. Her story reminds readers that although the average adolescent cannot read minds, we sometimes know exactly what others are thinking, because we ourselves have planted the images there. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal

Gr 8-11

Kristi is an outcast at her progressive high school. She's a nonconformist who makes her own clothes out of found objects and deliberately alienates the people around her. She describes herself as ugly and as a bitch. She also happens to have the ability to read minds. The negative thoughts she perceives from others cause her to reinforce the wall she has built around herself. She shut herself off from the world when her father left two years earlier, and hasn't trusted anyone since. She deliberately antagonizes her mother and plays cruel tricks on strangers. When a new student named Mallory starts at her school, Kristi comes to see herself reflected in his problems and finds that she doesn't want to be the angry outcast forever. As she opens up more to the people around her, she finds that she is not as perceptive about their opinions as she had thought, including those of her childhood crush, Gusty. Ryan's novel offers a fresh and funny teen voice. Kristi's sarcastic observations on her family and peers make this book a quick read. Many teens will relate to her feelings of isolation and the defensiveness it causes. If the book has one weakness, though, it is that the circumstances that allow Kristi to heal and open up happen a little too conveniently to be believable. Her seemingly deep emotional and self-esteem problems are resolved too quickly and easily. Still, this book will find an audience with girls looking for a strong heroine.-Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Psychic Kristi learns that people aren't always the sum of their thoughts. With her ability to read minds, love of opera and funky homemade clothes, Kristi has more or less embraced her role on the social fringes of her bohemian high school. The only thing that deeply bothers her is the fact that her crush, who also happens to be her ex-best friend's brother, thinks the word "sick" every time he looks at her. To complicate things further, Kristi's father left two years ago and she's just starting to get used to life without him when he shows up, back from a stint working as a doctor in Africa. Kristi is a self-proclaimed "bitch" who has no qualms about putting people in their place if she thinks they deserve it, but readers can't help but admire her honesty and raw emotion. The many plotlines wear thin in places as the author juggles eating disorders, body image, self-improvement, romance, strained family relations, coming out and changing friendships. Readers will probably ignore this in favor of the snappy dialogue and ultimately happy ending. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

"If you ever thought reading people’s minds would make it easier to understand other people, Amy Kathleen Ryan is here to tell you that you’re dead wrong. Funny, fresh, and heartfelt, Vibes zigs when you expect it to zag, and will have you laughing out loud."—Barry Lyga, author of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and Boy Toy

" . . . the surprising details make this a worthwhile addition to a teen romance collection . . . Kristi's eccentric habit of crafting her wardrobe from found objects, the content of her psychic visions, and the mismanagement of the relationships in her life add personality, and the result is a sweet, undemanding, yet consistently entertaining read with a good deal of insight into the way slightly off-center teenage girls construct their manic inner worlds."--The Bulletin

"Ryan's novel humorously explores the mind of a teenager grappling with issues of self-esteem, creativity, and self-worth. Teens will identify with Kristi and care about what she's going through."--KLIATT

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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770L (what's this?)
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379 KB
Age Range:
14 Years

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Read an Excerpt


It isn’t easy being able to read minds. People think up some pretty nasty sewage. Like the other day—I’m walking home from school when I come across an old guy walking his smelly Doberman. He’s definitely a candidate for this year’s Stodgiest American Award. Black suit coat, gray pants, white stuff in the corners of his mouth. He takes one look at my thick legs in their fishnets and my skirt that I made out of Mylar birthday balloons and my tank top that barely contains my ginormous boobs and finally the eyeliner I cake over my eyes because it makes me look dangerous, and he thinks: Ugly bitch.

Well, it’s true. I’m a bitch. And I’m ugly.

I could shed a lot of light on human nature if people knew that I read minds. Scientists would study me. I’d be in some lab strapped to a table and they’d put a huge machine around my head to measure my brain waves, and they’d nod to one another and say, “Fascinating. Fascinating.” And they’d all have really big pores and very white skin, because scientists never go outside. That’s why I don’t talk to anyone except for my Aunt Ann about my powers. The last thing I need is researchers sticking needles into my brain. If you’re wishing you were psychic, too, believe me, you do NOT want to know what people are thinking. People are mean, nasty, selfish slobs, and 99 percent of the time their brain vibes hurt your feelings and you have to go around trying not to remember that Gusty Peterson, the cutest guy in school, looked at you yesterday and thought, Sick.

I don’t like Gusty Peterson anyway. He always wears baseball caps backwards and extra-big jeans, and he tries to walk with a loose, tough- guy swagger that makes him look dumb. He’s a jerk-off. Too bad he also happens to be so gorgeous that when you look at his perfect tanned face and blond curls your eyes water. That’s one more thing I can tell you about human nature: beautiful people are the last ones you want to befriend. Beautiful people float through life thinking that it’s perfectly natural for others to gaze at them adoringly, and open doors for them, and defer to their opinion about whether or not the streamers for the prom should droop in the middle. Doesn’t anyone understand that beautiful people are stupid? That’s why nature made them beautiful, so they’d have some chance of surviving in the wild. And how do they survive? They use people and then they drop people, and they float away on the currents of their own gorgeousness to the next poor girl who thinks that being friends with a beautiful person will somehow make her beautiful, too. I’ve got news for you: hanging around beautiful people just makes you uglier by comparison.

I learned all this from my ex–best friend, Hildie Peterson—Gusty’s sister. She is one of the most gorgeous people in the whole world. She’s skinny and petite. Her eyes are slanty like a cat’s and her hair is light blond and glossy, so when you first see it you think that color can’t be natural, but then when you get closer you realize that it’s totally natural and you feel even worse about your mousy brown. She has never had a pimple in her entire life, and she’s been doing gymnastics since she was four years old, so she glides like a swan. She’s practically a freak, she’s so beautiful. I used to like her, when she didn’t understand how pretty she was. That was until we hit high school, and suddenly the entire lacrosse team was asking her out. They loved her so much, they practically carried her on their shoulders through the hallways of the school. Did Hildie ever look back at me—her big-breasted, psychic, slightly freaky friend—as she drifted into the stratosphere of popularity? Would you?

Meet the Author

Amy Kathleen Ryan reads huge numbers of books and magazines but has not had success in reading minds, though not for lack of trying. She always knew she wanted to write, and thus earned an M.A. in English literature and graduated from the New School Creative Writing for Children Program. She now lives with her family in Colorado. This is her second novel.

Amy Kathleen Ryan earned an M.A. in English literature and graduated from the New School Creative Writing for Children Program. She now lives with her family in Colorado.

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Vibes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
LoveatFirstBook More than 1 year ago
When I first saw the book Vibes, my initial reaction was "Okay, this book might be pretty good. Messed up teen who can read minds... sounds interesting." So I thought, why not? I wasn't expecting much from it but I decided to read it anyway. And I'm glad I did. Vibes is a funny and a great book for any teen girl who is the mood for a romance. And on top of that, it comes with a twist. She can read minds :) I highly recomend this book for girls mostly. Guys wouldn't really find it enjoyable because it's more of a sappy love book filled with teenage girl problems :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vibes is one of the most riveting books I've read in a long time. It sends out the eternal message of life: Judging gets you no where. Be happy, and be you. It was hilarious, admittedly weird and negative toward the beginning, and absolutely mind-boggling throughout its entirety. After the first few chapters, I couldn't put it down. And even after I did, it kept me up late at night thinking over the contours of its pages. Ryan shows a dark and new perspective of love and life I have never read before, and it was was much more than refreshing and original. If you read this book, your reading much than words on pages.
-Sabrina More than 1 year ago
Vibes, is based on a girl named Kristi and she is simply and complicated girl. She gets Psychic vibes, about people, and one on the ones that annoys her the most is Gusty Petersons. The hottest guy in school is calling her, Sick. A new kid comes to school, his name is Mallory. His face is covered with acne. But he enjoys the same things Kristi does, and then they start hanging out and they get closer and closer. Then they get asigned Charactor Education Partners, and Kristi has been paired up with Gusty! So you have to see what will happen next. Then after all that is happening her dad decides to come back after leaving Kristi with her mom, 2 years ago.
I am a gir at a meer age of only 12 1/2, and i would recamend this book for anyone over the age of 13. The moral of the story would be not to judge people, even if you get phycic vibes about them.
This book you will NOT want to Put DOWN! i read over half the book just yesterday, and i for one dont like reading. I wasnt even forced to read it i just chose to.
This is now one of my favorite books, and i just have to say that, Amy Kathleen Ryan is the Master of Book WRITING! You go Girl!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Kristi Carmichael thinks she has all the answers, which is part of why she stopped caring about just about everything two years ago. She knows all about her workaholic mother, absent father, and why the incredibly cute Gusty Peterson would never want to have anything to do with her. She can even understand the romantic thoughts and strange fantasies her friends Mallory and Jacob have for her. Of course, being psychic can have that effect on a person. Part of having all the answers is being chronically unimpressed (definitely how Kristi feels about her free-spirited high school) and always playing by her own rules (that's covered by the padlock on her bedroom door and the cat she hides inside it, not to mention the found wardrobe). But as the school year progresses, Kristi finds a lot of things happening that she didn't see coming--even with all the answers. The sudden return of her father, attentions from not one but two boy at school, and other surprises leave Kristi in a tailspin as she wonders if, maybe, the vibes she's been getting were more bogus than psychic all along. Such is the premise of Vibes, Amy Kathleen Ryan's second novel (and the subject of a rumored movie adaptation according to Cinema Blend--although the fundamental inaccuracies of the basic summary there do leave me wondering about the accuracy of the rumor). I realy liked this book. The fact that Kristi is psychic is treated as a normal event--not a big deal, no worrying about why she can read minds--which I enjoyed since mind reading usually supersedes plot when it crops up in non-fantasy books. At 249 pages, the book goes by fast but the story is still deep. A strong point of Ryan's writing are the characters she has created. In the beginning of the novel Kristi and also the new boy at school, Mallory, are deeply troubled, something both teens try to deal with through anger. Kristi doesn't mince words when she tells readers all of the reasons she has to be angry (there are a few). However, as the story moves forward and Kristi realizes that reading minds isn't the same as understanding what people are thinking, she also learns that there is more to life (both good and bad) than she had first thought. One theme that the novel deals with well is self-esteem in that Kristi does have much at the start of the novel. Seeing herself as fat and ugly, Kristi doesn't find herself very surprised when she hears the word "sick" in Gusty Peterson's head whenever he thinks of her. Kristi's low opinion of herself is hard to shake even in the face of positive attentions from Mallory and, of course, her family. To some readers it could seem over the top, but the truth is I was right there with Kristi and when those things came up in the novel, it felt like Ryan was quoting a page from my own life. The other theme that was handled really well in Vibes is the absent father issue. Kristi misses her father terribly, and in many ways does idolize him, but only until he shows up again. Then it becomes apparent that there was more to her father's leaving that even a psychic could have guessed. In summary, Ryan blends a lot of different themes and genres to create a new kind of story that readers (teen and otherwise) are sure to enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a touching tale about someone trying to fit in.Or maybe in some ways..... stand out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love thats shes jut her self and her dont care attuded LOL XD i can read this book over and over
carolvo More than 1 year ago
A funny story about a revolted girl. It has romance and comedy. Guys wont like the book because of the sappy romance but most girls will enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story for first read, but not sure if I'd read it again and again. Worth the money, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
breakthesky More than 1 year ago
The main character, Kristi, referenced to her breasts constantly throughout the book. She usually called them 'gazungas', which I found completely immature and inappropriate at times. However, I did like the plotline, despite the fact in the end it seemed to get all mashed together. Maybe I'm getting too old for these types of books, late preteens and early teens would probably like it. To me, it was a book to check out at the library rather than buying and showing it on your shelf!
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Kyle Hamilton More than 1 year ago
ive read this book a million times and i still LOVE IT!!!!!!! one of the best books i ever read i let my friend read it and she loves it too hope u read it like it as much as i did:)
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Arianna Peralta More than 1 year ago
i luved dis book!!! it was a amazing read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was an excellent book. the story was well thought out and seemed pretty realistic. some parts did tough slightly throw me off. t always seems as if every five pages or so kristi is complaining about her giant "gazungas" or another character is reacting to them in a very peprverted manner.the charcters were great they seemed lke real people becuase you could see how deep their emotions were, and the had some flawed qaulities like actual people. i woud recomend this for teen-age girls especailly if they want to share books with friends, it's perfect.
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Jackixo More than 1 year ago
In this novela, I truly did enjoy it. My outlook on some people definitely has changed and has made me think about other things than just the norm. It made me see that inner beauty and outer beaty do intertwine. They don't just do that, but they also play individual parts in your life. Kristi is complex, and an ultimite unique indivual. That is what makes this book special from the rest. This novel really makes you think twice about what you think about people and what they may think about you. Or things may not always be what they seem. This book was imspiring and well thought out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago