The Medium begins in 1937, as Helen Schneider is nearing the end of her childhood and entering adolescence. It is at this point in her life that Helen begins to have visions. Although her grandmother is a medium, Helen is frightened by these occurrences; the first two deal with her neighbors. It is the second vision, in which she sees the boy next door being hit by a car and at the next moment hears the squealing of car brakes, that prompts Helen to tell her experiences to her grandmother. Immediately, her grandmother schedules séances, with remarkable results. As Helen matures and America enters World War II, she uses the séances as a means to bring comfort to the living relatives of deceased soldiers. As the war grinds on, it touches Helen in very personal ways: her best school friend, Rosie, joins the WAACs; Lloyd, the boy next door, lies about his age and joins up; while his brother, Billy, Helen’s boyfriend, has a protected job in an aircraft factory. When Helen sees a vision of the D-Day landings and notifies the Army of potential danger, she is detained and her powers put to use in the interests of “national security.”
Ms. Sickels writes excellent descriptions of daily life at the end of the Depression and through World War II. American readers who have lived through this time will be nodding heads and smiling as their own childhood memories surface. The characters and situations are believable, and even if the reader is skeptical of the validity of séances, everything else rings true.