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The Icarus Girlby Helen Oyeyemi
Synopses & Reviews
“The Icarus Girl is an astonishing achievement.” —Sunday Telegraph (London)
Jessamy “Jess” Harrison is eight years old. Sensitive, whimsical, possessed of an extraordinary and powerful imagination, she spends hours writing haiku, reading Shakespeare, or simply hiding in the dark warmth of the airing cupboard. As the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother, Jess just can’t shake off the feeling of being alone wherever she goes, and the other kids in her class are wary of her tendency to succumb to terrified fits of screaming. Believing that a change from her English environment might be the perfect antidote to Jess’s alarming mood swings, her parents whisk her off to Nigeria for the first time where she meets her mother’s family—including her formidable grandfather.
Jess’s adjustment to Nigeria is only beginning when she encounters Titiola, or TillyTilly, a ragged little girl her own age. To Jess, it seems that, at last, she has found someone who will understand her. But gradually, TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, making Jess start to realize that she doesn’t know who TillyTilly is at all.
Lyrical, haunting, and compelling, The Icarus Girl draws on Nigerian mythology to present a strikingly original variation on a classic literary theme: the existence of “doubles,” both real and spiritual, who play havoc with our perceptions and our lives. A story of twins and ghosts, of a little girl growing up between cultures and colors, this book heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent.
The daughter of a British father and a Nigerian mother, Jessamy "Jess" Harrison is growing up feeling that she is caught between two different worlds, until she is sent to visit relatives in Nigeria, where she comes face to face with a mysterious new friend who apparently remains invisible to those around her. A first novel. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
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.
About the Author
Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984 and has lived in London from the age of four. She completed The Icarus Girl just before her nineteenth birthday while studying for her A-level exams. She is a member of the class of 2006 at Cambridge University, where she studied social and political sciences. The Icarus Girl is her first novel, and she is at work on her second.
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