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My Best Book

THE ICARU GIRL, begins innocently, with a childish debate about identity. An eight-year-old girl is hiding in a cupboard "saying quietly to herself, I am in the cupboard. She felt that she needed to be saying this so that it would be real. It was similar to her waking up and saying to herself, My name is Jessamy. I am eight years old." Jessamy likes to amend her favourite children's classics by writing new versions over their pages with her pen: "Beth's so nice you'd think Louisa May Alcott would have treated her better." It turns out that she herself is the heroine of an unalterable hurt. Sweet, clever Jessamy is a troubled child, "a half-and-half child", prone to screaming fits and fevers, hot and cold at once. Her Nigerian mother and English father are eager for her to be "normal", but at home in London her father's relatives confuse her by being so "like a picture book family; blonde man, blonde woman, cute little blonde child". She doesn't feel right in Nigeria either. "Here she was, half a world away, still feeling alien." Her mother's father gives her her special Nigerian name, Wuraola, "but Wuraola sounded like another person, not her at all". Then otherness - or is it sameness? - enters the story in the form of TillyTilly, a jolly-seeming chum with a name of two halves. "A girl was standing silently above her, looking down at her with narrow, dark eyes so dark that, to Jess, lying on the ground, they seemed pupil-less. There was something about her that was out of proportion. Was she too tall and yet too... small at the same time?" Tilly takes Jess on fun adventures in forbidden and impossible places, and when Jess gets home to England and can't settle at school, the strange Nigerian girl turns up at the front door looking slightly more suitably English. "Me and my parents have just moved in around the area."  Tilly, a character whose "reality" has consequences that turn more and more violent. Jess's father becomes ill; "Tilly's verdant, earthy smell clung to him in clumps." A friendship Jess makes with her psychologist's daughter goes very wrong indeed. A story surfaces of a lost self, a dead twin: both the Nigerian and English ways of dealing with this loss are useless in the face of the force unleashed by a grieving and unsatisfied imagination. This book shows the difference between the African culture and Englih culture and how both cultures use their own methods of solving a child's problems....its am amazing book 
ufutaa ufutaa 18-21, F May 11, 2012

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