The Icarus Girl (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The Icarus Girl is a very strange book: an exploration of the clash of two cultures, a study of a child’s psychological disintegration, a horror story, and perhaps more. Although it begins in England, the story shifts to Nigeria where, melded with Yoruba custom and folklore, it quickly slides into a mysterious, supernatural realm that the author, Helen Oyeyemi, admits even she does not fully understand. Inhabiting that realm are two girls, Jessamy Harrison, who is English by birth, and Titiola, whom Jess meets in Nigeria and who follows her home.
At first, it is not clear what is wrong with eight-year-old Jess, although something definitely is, because she is constantly screaming. A solitary child, she has no friends. At home in London, she likes to hide in the linen cupboard on the stair landing. She cannot eat in front of other people or meet their eyes; she writes haiku in the dark, lying on her bedroom floor. At school she has been advanced to Year Five but does not like it. She has terrible spells that may well be panic attacks, but otherwise she appears to be depressed. Because her fellow pupils say she is weird, she desperately wants to return to her own Year Four class, but her proud Nigerian mother, Sarah, objects. Sarah, a successful novelist, seems for the most part unmindful of her daughter’s problems, but Daniel, her mild English father, is more sensitive, and Jess feels closer to him.
On the Harrisons’ flight from...
(The entire section is 1768 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 17 (May 1, 2005): 1571.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 6 (March 15, 2005): 310.
Library Journal 130, no. 8 (May 1, 2005): 75.
The New York Times 154 (June 21, 2005): E1-E4.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (July 17, 2005): 17.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 14 (April 4, 2005): 40.
(The entire section is 29 words.)