The audacious first novel from the award-winning and highly acclaimed Helen Oyeyemi.
Jessamy “Jess” Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn’t actually know who her friend is at all. Drawing on Nigerian mythology, Helen Oyeyemi presents a striking variation on the classic literary theme of doubles — both real and spiritual — in this lyrical and bold debut.
A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred review.THE ICARUS GIRLHelen Oyeyemi. Doubleday/Talese, (352p) The story of a troubled eight-year-old haunted and ultimately possessed by family secrets, this spooky debut novel from a 20-year-old Nigerian-born Cambridge student is sure to garner attention for its precocity and literary self-consciousness. The sensitive protagonist, Jessamy Harrison, born to a British father and Nigerian mother, writes haikus and reads Shakespeare, but regularly throws tantrums and avoids social interaction both at school and at home. As an intervention, her parents take her to stay with family in Nigeria for the summer. At her grandfather's compound, she encounters TillyTilly, a mysterious girl who seems to know everything about Jess and who, Jess realizes, is not visible to anyone else. In Nigeria with TillyTilly, Jess finds a sense of belonging and intimacy for the first time, but when Jess returns to England, TillyTilly becomes less comforting and more troublesome. In confident, heavily stylized prose, Oyeyemi illustrates Jess's cultural dislocation, using both Nigerian and Christian imagery to evoke a sense of her unreality. As sophisticated as she is, Jess's eight-year-old observations provide a limited lens, and at times, the novel's fantasy element veers into young adult suspense territory.
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The icarus girl
This book is awesome! She's a good writer.