Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Review: Icarus Girl

I love to it. I could escape into a good book for a couple hours and emerge feeling refreshed, enlightened or at times, disturbed.  Such was the case with the last book I read, (well actually the last two hmmm...  Maybe I shouldn't start out on that note).  Anyway the last book I read (for my bookclub at work) was Icarus Girl.  The author Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria and migrated to England as a young child.  She wrote this book while studying for A Levels.  It's about a girl named Jessamy, 8 years old when we first meet her; Jess for short.  Jess is mixed: her mother is Black from Nigeria and her father is Caucasian from England.  One thing that was a bit different for me with this book is that I'm accustomed to liking the main character but at this point I'm still not even sure that I like Jess...she's a beautiful child but she's clearly troubled.  She doesn't like school, doesn't really have any friends and actually prefers to be alone.   The book is written from Jess' perspective and so sometimes I'm not sure if she's dealing with autism, having a panic attack or just being difficult.   Naturally, her parents are concerned about her and they (well her mother really) decide that what she needs is a trip to Nigeria.  While in Nigeria, Jess meets Titiola who she calls Tilly Tilly because she can't pronounce Titiola (which, come to think of it is strange considering she prefers to read Shakespeare and writes Haiku.....hmmm...anyway).  

At first I wonder if Tilly Tilly is Jess' imaginary friend, then I think maybe she's schizophrenic but then Tilly Tilly proves that she is really a ghost who starts out being a nice playmate but then becomes more malevolent as the book goes on.  The book touches on identity: Jess is a "half-and-half" child; life from a child's perspective: being accepted and having friends, not liking school and African folklore..later on in the novel Tilly Tilly 'gets' back at people who've somehow been unkind to Jess (at least in Tilly Tilly's eyes): a teacher at school and Jess' father both seem to have an emotional breakdown (can you say scary?) and something very bad happens to one of Jess' friends.  Jess becomes the heroine when she prevents Tilly Tilly's attempt to permanently 'swap places' with Jess...All in all it was an interesting read.  

I'm off to the second-hand bookstore next to my office to pick up something (hopefully much lighter) for the weekend.  

What about you?  Do you have any reading plans for this weekend?  Whatever you do, have a good one.



  1. That plot sounds riveting but a tad warped :S

  2. Yes a tad warped.....dark...will definitely not read that again !