Last month I discovered Nigerian born British author Helen Oyeyemi and vowed to read every last one of her books. In no particular order I planned to read Icarus Girl, White is for Witching, Mr. Fox, The Opposite House and her latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird.
Her age coupled with the amount of published works she has produced caught my curiosity and I was determined to read what came from such a young and prolific author.
The latest I’ve read is Icarus Girl. Inline with White is for Witching and The Opposite House, Icarus Girl – her debut novel – grapples with the themes of identity and place while also dabbling in subtle, haunting magical realism. Icarus Girls follows sensitive, mixed race, eight year old Jessamy Harrison and her wild “imagination.” She befriends a girl, not unlike herself named Tilly Tilly and they go on the most wondrous of adventures. Only, as their friendship grows, Jess begins to second guess her new friend’s intentions when those who are close to her begin to suffer.
While I enjoyed this book immensely, I was very disappointed in the lack of revelation in who Tilly Tilly really was. I thought the book was building up to such a reveal but then alas, it just ended. But I don’t think it ended in a sort of way for the reader to make their own conclusions – it felt as if Oyeyemi just forgot to tell us Tilly Tilly’s true identity. Whatever the case, if I ever meet Oyeyemi, I’ll be asking her, “Who the hell was Tilly Tilly?!”
If you’re into books that deal with race, mixed identities, and the subtle supernatural events that may or may not occur due to a child’s imagination, then this book is for you.
I’m currently halfway through Boy, Snow, Bird. Stay tuned…