So this is my review of the Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. I read this a while ago, and I don’t know that I should review it, but
I’m trying to review all the books I’ve read, so it’ll just be a short one.
This is about an eight-year-old girl named Jess. She lives in England
with her English father and Nigerian mother. She has an incredible imagination
and it makes it hard for her to fit in at school. Her teachers don’t really
know how to deal with her, and her parents disagree on how they should help
her. Then they go to Nigeria for their holiday and Jess meets a little girl
called TillyTilly. Suddenly Jess feels like she fits in somewhere and has a
friend. Then Tilly’s visits start getting dark, and Tilly starts to scare Jess,
and Jess realizes she doesn’t really know Tilly at all.
As I mentioned it’s been a while since I read this, but I do remember
liking it. The ending annoyed me a little, but meh, it was okay.
I really liked the sort of folklore overtones, and it made it feel a bit
like a fairytale. I really liked old folklore and fairytale, so I really
enjoyed that aspect of it.
I also enjoyed how it was written about Jess. It seems like Jess clearly
has some pretty severe anxiety issues, and her mother seems to think that
seeing a therapist won’t help, that they can fix her through family and stuff,
which is… not helping. They also seem to… sort of ignore Jess, or at least, not
take her anxiety seriously, assume she’s lying, overreacting or revving up her
anxiety, which is awful.
I found TillyTilly fascinating. She’s… I’m not sure if she’s a real
person, or just this imaginary friend that Jess has made up. She’s also kind of
scary in the way that only children can make someone scary. She’s so violent
and possessive and cruel. And she’s scary in the way that children will find
someone scary, because Jess has no control over her, which is fascinating. And
I also find that scary, because in many ways Tilly represents Jess’ anxiety,
and like she can’t control Tilly she can’t control her anxiety either.
The stronger Jess becomes, and the more “normal” she becomes, the more
violent TillyTilly’s reactions become. She wants Jess to herself and punishes
Jess and her friends and family. It’s really creepy.
Oyeyemi was like 17 when she wrote this book, and while I think it was
good, and I am impressed with what she’s created I think it’s also clear that Oyeyemi was quite young when she
wrote it. I don’t think I can point to anything specific that made me feel this
way. It’s just that Jess seems a bit too precocious and clever for an
I liked it. I thought it was interesting, and I’m definitely excited to
read more of Oyeyemi’s books.