Monday, January 1, 2018

Book Review: "The Shadow Girl" by Misty Mount

Have you ever felt invisible? Even though you may be speaking or doing something to get attention, have you ever felt like people just aren't hearing or noticing you?

Thirteen-year-old Zylia feels that way constantly. But it's more than being one of six kids, competing for the attention of her parents, and it's more than just adolescent insecurity or impatience. There have been times where her mother literally doesn't see her, doesn't serve her breakfast alongside her siblings. There even was a time when the kid sitting in front of her in class didn't pass her a quiz because he didn't see she was there, and the teacher didn't even notice.

Is she actually disappearing, crazy as it sounds?

There's one person who notes Zylia's presence, though—her grandmother, although she is in the throes of dementia. Zylia keeps hearing that she somehow resembles her great-aunt Angelica, who disappeared many years before, when she was Zylia's age. Anytime she goes near her grandmother, the woman becomes gets agitated, accusing Zylia of knowing where Angelica is. Her grandmother believes Zylia is keeping Angelica from her.

In her quest to understand what is happening to her, Zylia discovers that her fears are justified—she keeps inadvertently traveling into a shadowy "in-between" dimension. Can she stop this from happening permanently, before it's too late? Can she solve the mystery of what happened to Angelica, and perhaps give her grandmother some comfort? And perhaps most importantly, can she just start living a "normal" life, and focus on friends, and perhaps the boy she has a crush on?

I'm being a little vague in my description of the plot in an effort not to give too much away. This is a book that should be enjoyed as the plot unfolds for you.

I really enjoyed The Shadow Girl, and it surprised me tremendously. When I first started reading the book, I thought it was going to be a tale of adolescent woe, but it turned out to be something completely different, and beautifully imaginative. Misty Mount captured the buzz of a huge household, the sibling dynamics, the dialogue of school and home so perfectly, and yet as the plot shifted, her storytelling shifted with it. Her use of imagery is immensely lyrical, almost poetic.

This is a book about self-discovery, finding bravery when you think you have none, and trusting that those who care about you will stand by you. There are elements of fantasy which will require you to suspend your disbelief, but they so perfectly fit within the confines of the story Mount has created. Oh, yeah, and the names of the characters are awesome.

If you've ever struggled with being shy, feeling insecure, you'll identify with Zylia, and you may even cast a few wayward glances toward your reflection in the mirror, just to be sure.

The author provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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