This is a little known science fiction book from the 1980's, that I bought when I was in highschool at my favorite store, Redux - Used Junk. It was wedged between a comic book-sci fi store and someplace that bought used jeans on Broadway, near Garfield school, in Boise, ID. I used to stop in there and talk to the owners on my way home from school and if I had any money I bought a paperback for a dollar or two. I was was drawn in by the eclectic shop and its bohemian owners that made their living as waiters to pay the bills while running the store in between trips to South America in their VW bus.
Whenever I read Gypsies, I think of their store. When I see the characters in my head, I see the owners: the beautiful, but aging hippies. It is the tale of a family that has the ability to step between alternate realities. The spectrum of possibilities being infinite they are limited by their imaginations to the worlds they can find and explore. But, they have not really explored or even used their talents. The family consists of three children Karen the oldest and the responsible one, Laura the ex hippy, and Tim the rebellious angry youngest brother, now grownup. Their parents were killed gruesomely and they were raised by adoptive parents. Their adoptive father, Willis, saw their skills as evil and beat them violently whenever he caught them "making doors" or "windows." This because inevitably afterwards they would be pursued by "the grey man" that had murdered their parents. Willis wordlessly would move them to a new location, beat them all soundly, and it would all begin again.
The story begins with Karen's divorce and realization that her son Michael has their talent, and is pursued by the Grey Man. She runs to her sister, Laura, and together the three attempt to find out the truth about their family and their talents. In the process they have to confront Willis, their brother, Tim, the Gray Man, and even travel to Novus Ordu, an alternative America where magic is real, and their parents were created as part of a mystical military industrial complex.
What makes this one of my favorite books, is that the bulk of the story is about the family, about the consequences of what happened before they want to remember. The need to understand feelings and memories suppressed since childhood because of unravelling adult life is also very real, and grounds the fantastical premise of the book. The characters are mundane, normal, but that is a great strength in a genre where too often all the men are ruggedly handsome, miraculously resourceful, and the women beautiful, busty, but shallow and unimportant. It makes the incredible situations believable.
I also love the descriptions of the worlds, that feel real enough that they could be out there, if only we knew how to get there.