Saturday, October 08, 2005
THE ICARUS GIRL by Helen Oyeyemi
THE ICARUS GIRL (finished by Nigerian-born Cambridge-eductated Helen Oyeyemi before her 19th birthday!) explores the split that people feel when they straddle two cultures--always outsiders. In this case, the main character Jessamy (who is 8 or 9 years old) invents a perfect companion for herself, a doppleganger of sorts, called Tilly-Tilly. Tilly-Tilly pushes Jess to behave in ways she otherwise wouldn't. I think it gestures to mental illness quite cleverly. (The myth of Icarus which lends its name to the book's title shows Icarus building wings fashioned with wax--when he flies too close to the sun, they melt and he plumets to his watery grave.) I met Helen Oyeyemi at the PEN fall benefit in October. She is charming and modest. All the more reason to read her book.