The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

The Icarus Girl

Jess is a quirky girl prone to sudden screaming fits and other strange behaviors. Her teachers classmates and parents are all aware of this but no one really understands why. Besides being reserved and extremely intelligent she appears to be normal. She is very observant and sensitive and spends much her time reading, telling herself stories or writing poetry. After promotion to a higher grade level at school doesn’t seem to ease what’s bothering Jess her parents decide that it might be good if they take her to visit her mother’s family in Nigeria. This will be the first time she’s met them, until now she has only spoken to them on the phone from England. She has only visited her father’s family.

Adjusting to Nigeria is going along slowly when one day Jess meets a little girl dressed in rags who appears to be about her own age. TillyTilly is fun and brave and seems to really understand Jess. Jess is always a bit nervous around TillyTilly but goes along with her antics. Soon TillyTilly becomes reckless, carrying Jess along with her and even showing up when Jess’ family returns to England. The Icarus Girl is told from Jess’ point of view providing an interesting look into her world, a world filled with ghosts, doubles, and unexplained happenings. What we see is that everyone has a story even if they have not heard it for themselves.

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