Rosa Guy Lillian L. Shapiro - Essay

Lillian L. Shapiro

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The protagonist of Mirror of Her Own]—Mary Abbot, 17, is shy and plain and stutters. Her efforts to find acceptance within her high-school crowd are handicapped not only by her unfortunate friendship with abrasive and prejudiced Gloria but also by the contrast between Mary and her beautiful, talented 22-year-old sister Roxanne, the object of attention from the very eligible John Drysdale…. The main theme is Mary's unrequited "love" for John, obviously unworthy, unrequited only until too much wine, pot and cocaine bring about the outcome for which Mary has yearned. It is, however, clearly a case of exploitation on the part of John, and Mary's flight through a swampy wood after her escapade is made to seem like a purgatorial punishment. The empty values of the white characters, as exemplified by their conspicuous consumption of clothes, homes, yachts, liquor and drugs, are contrasted with those of a few Black characters, who are proud, dignified and financially secure, and by a patronizingly superior African visitor. Though this purports, on the book jacket blurb, to be "a strong and perceptive novel of a young woman's search for an end to a life lived in the shadow of an older sister," it delivers a cliché-laden moralistic story about cardboard figures.

Lillian L. Shapiro, in her review of "Mirror of Her Own," in School Library Journal (reprinted from the May, 1981 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1981), Vol. 27, No. 9, May, 1981, p. 73.