Smoke & Mirrors

Barry Jonsberg

Smoke & Mirrors
Allen & Unwin
30 January 2024

Smoke & Mirrors

Barry Jonsberg

Grace McKellon isn't a 'people person'. All she needs is her magic tricks and her wise-cracking grandmother - until a new friend comes along and promises to make her a social media star. A wonderful and intriguing middle fiction novel from an internationally acclaimed, bestselling Australian author.

I don't know about love. I suspect the emotion that others apparently feel all the time is just . . . absent from me. Like there's an ingredient missing from the recipe. The possible exception is Gran.

Grace cares about only two things: performing magic and her cantankerous gran. Gran shares her prickly personality and spiky sense of humour, and she's the only one Grace lets into her tightly locked heart - until she meets Simon, an older student who promises to help her turn her magic tricks into a small business and social media stardom.

When Gran is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Grace moves in to become her primary carer. With the help of Simon and some sleight of hand, Grace is determined to bring joy back into their lives. And when she confronts her worst fear, she realises maybe her heart doesn't need to stay locked away after all.

A funny, compelling and fresh story from the author of the bestselling books My Life As An Alphabet and A Song Only I Can Hear.


When your mum drinks too much, your father is dead, your younger brother only appears occasionally, you have no friends, and your grandmother is about to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, you could be forgiven for thinking the world is out to get you. The remarkable star of Barry Jonsberg’s wonderful new novel doesn’t take it personally though. Grace goes to school. Grace takes on the full-time care of her Gran, despite only being in Year 9. And Grace performs magic. She is obsessed with it, she loves it; doing magic tricks so good they go viral on social media is her escape from a world that can be cruel and confusing.

Grace’s magic brings her a new friend, a new business and helps her get through each day. While the descriptions of the magic tricks Grace performs can get a tiny bit tedious, Grace herself never is. She is extremely funny. Her interactions with her Gran are hilarious, and I loved them both. Despite everything Grace has been through, by the end of this book I wanted to be just like her, and I am certain anyone over the age of 12 who reads it will too. She is truly something special.

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