Review: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron

30 Mar

HarperCollins Canada, 2010

Click. Sukie Jamieson takes a selfie after her tennis lesson. Click. She takes one before she has to give a presentation in class. Click. She takes one to be sure there’s nothing in her teeth after eating pizza at Clementi’s. And if she can’t take a selfie, she checks her reflection in windows, spoons, car chrome—anything available, really. So when her mother gives her an exquisite full-length mirror that once belonged to her grandmother, Sukie is thrilled. So thrilled that she doesn’t listen to her mother’s warning: “This mirror will be your best friend and worst enemy.” Because mirrors, as Sukie discovers, show not only the faraway truth but the truth close up. And finding out that close-up truth changes people. Often forever.

From HarperTeen website

I have to admit that for the first 70 pages or so, I really didn’t like this book. Or, rather, I didn’t “get” this book. I didn’t get Suki, the main character. I didn’t get the plot. I didn’t get the writing.

I found Suki raither vain and self involved. She spent a good portion of the first 1/4 of the book staring at herself in the mirror, admiring her beauty and daydreaming about hunky Bobo. (Part of my dislike of the first part of the book was the name Bobo. I found it so dumb and I hated it so much, it was distracting.)

I disliked this book so much that at page 80 I simply set it down and moved on to another book, something I rarely do.  But I believe in second chances, so I gave The Girl with the Mermaid Hair another try. And I’m glad that I did.

Once I got back into the book I discovered that Suki wasn’t supposed to be 100% likeable. She was supposed to be shallow and vain. But as we are introduced to the people in her life, particularly her parents, it becomes clear why she is the way she is. And the plot?  What I thought was the plot (Suki’s attempt to get Bobo) was actually secondary to the main focus of the book, which was Suki’s growth and development as a teen ager coming to terms with who she is.

The writing style also grew on me. Subtle and simple, Ephron didn’t try to make her writing clever or alluring: it just was. There isn’t a whole lot of action in the book, and I would almost describe the style as slow. But in a good way. The further you get in the book, the more you realize that there is a depth to Suki’s story that isn’t obvious at first.

I guess the best way to put it is that The Girl with the Mermaid Hair grew on me. After it I read it, I kinda went “Huh,okay” and beyond that wasn’t sure what to think. But as I did think back on the book it became clear that while it doesn’t wow from page 1, it does slowly convince the reader that it is worth something.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the review copy.

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One Response to “Review: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron”

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  1. Here Baby, There Mama, Everywhere… « Jacket Whys - July 10, 2010

    […] beauty and perfection until she uncovers a devastating family secret. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Blindsided: After years of failing eyesight, fourteen-year-old Natalie reluctantly enters a school […]

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