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Sukie Jamieson is obsessed with her looks - and with herself. At every opportunity she gets, she looks at herself in a spoon, or takes a "selfie" with her cell phone, all to make sure she looks her best. When her mother gives her a gorgeous antique mirror that used to belong to her grandmother, Sukie is ecstatic. She is so ecstatic that she forgets to adhere to her mother's warning: "The mirror will be your best friend, but also your worst enemy."
As Sukie's year progresses, she learns that the mirror shows not only who you are up close, but also who you are on the inside. With these revelations, she sets off into the best and worst moments of her life, dealing with everything from family problems, to friendship dilemmas, but most of all, with who she really is as a person.
To be honest, I was not a fan of this book for the first half of the story. I felt that Sukie was really whiny and fake, caring too much about herself and not enough about those around her. Everything was really disconnected and confusing, but as soon as I hit the halfway mark the story got so much better. Sukie started to become aware of her surroundings and started turning into a real person. She even got my sympathy as she dealt with situations that anyone would find tough.
While the second half of THE GIRL WITH THE MERMAID HAIR was definitely the better half, the ending really sealed the deal for me that this was actually a good book. There was tons of emotion and it was great to see things fall into place. The crazy characters became a little less crazy, and you finally got to see the amount Sukie had grown throughout the story.
One thing I definitely have to give kudos to the author for is the characterization of Sukie's mom. Her mother was such a mean person that by the end of the book I really had an extreme dislike for her. For me, the fact that the author was able to make me feel this infuriated with a character is really neat, as it means she made her real.
In the end, this was a good story of friendship, loneliness, and finding the true beauty in yourself that is sometimes very hard to find.
Reviewed by: Tasha
I didn't like the protagonist Sukie Jamieson, 15 at all. She comes across as extremely self-obsessed, particularly where her looks are concerned. Her brother Mikey, 8 is the most appealing and likable character. He brings humor and logic where it is sorely needed.
Sukie, a mirror fanatic receives an heirloom mirror that once belonged to her grandmother. This is one thing she certainly doesn't need as she is never too far from a mirror or reflective glass such as a window. Sukie is irritating with her overuse of the word "selfie," meaning self portraits that she takes with her cell phone camera. Between the camera and the mirror, one would think Sukie would have an overdose of self.
Mirrors have long held an interesting place in history as being distortions of reality and images. From "The Lady of Shalott" to "Snow White," mirrors have had a rather mystical literary appeal. In "Snow White," where the haggish crone's mirror lied to her because she was in denial about her atrocious looks, Sukie is equally in denial about her atrocious personality and self preoccupation. In fact, she takes her mirrors so seriously that she envisions a parallel universe where she reigns and a quarterback named Bobo is her ideal beau.
One can view Sukie as having many reflections, including distored self images like a funhouse mirror. She comes across as EXTREMELY self absorbed and her verbiage ("selfies") reinforces that notion. One can also view her as lonely as she is stuck with herself, insecurities and all as well as her ubiquitious mirrors and camera.
Sukie questions all forms of beauty around her such as nature. In so doing, she wonders what constitutes beauty and is she capable of living up to peer, parental and academic standards? Even so, Sukie remains on the periphery of life away from her mirrors and out among other people.
Even Sukie's father is a problematic character. He makes passes at other women in public, confiding in Sukie that he is an operator. He is later discovered to have had an adulterous affair. He places high expectations on her and she uses him as a mirror of sorts to determine whether or not she is looking as well as acting up to par.
Sukie's mother is very surfacy and, one could say not all that different from Sukie, but to a far lesser extreme. She is not a loving person nor is she especially kind or supportive. She is not really able to connect with Sukie and it does make one think that perhaps these two are trapped behind the looking glass and cannot pass through the glass barrier to other decisions that include other people in less self-absorbed ways.
Sukie's literary prognosis does not sound promising. She lives through her mirror induced fantasies and acts as if she believes these false scenarios are actually taking place. She manages to cut herself adrift from the people around her and reach her nadir with devastating results.
Outside the looking glass, the world is not so sharp and clear. Bobo, Sukie's idealized beau is just another lusty guy on the make. Isabella, the waitress she imagined as a friend is nothing like the way she imagined her to be. Her own internal mirror shatters and Sukie is forced to pick up the pieces and rebuild a more accurate image that includes others and their flaws instead of the make-believe looking glass world she created.
Sukie impressed me as a tragic figure. She initially comes across as a very neurotic, self obsessed personality whose isolation finally comes through later into the story. The book is extremely well written, but I admit that I just could not like Sukie or the other supporting characters except for Mikey.
Diana Ross' 1980 hit "Mirror, Mirror" could be the soundtrack of this book.