book review: Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer

Just finished reading a very creative young adult fiction book. It was sitting on my Braille note for awhile and I found it while scrolling through my list.

I have to say it wasn’t the best book ever but for what the author was trying to do with the science fiction part of things plus the realistic fiction stuff it was pretty good.

The story revolves around Samara and Dee. Two teens who seem to have totally different lives. But they’re each other’s reflection.

At a party Dee’s friend/ crush Jamie while pretty zoned on pot starts going on and on about how there might be an alternate universe where you would meet another you with another life and things like that. Even though this was coming from someone not in the most clear state of mind and Dee considered herself a logical person the idea stayed with her. Looking in the mirror she realized the a alternate universe was on the other side.

She tried and tried to break through the mirror constantly looking at herself. Her mom was very worried and when arguing over it a tug of war lead to a mirror breaking. Rather than her mom falling and being cut up by glass she actually fell through the mirror. She was a substitute teacher in Samara’s school who seemed to really resonate with Samara but was only there for one day.

While Dee has after school activities, a soon to be boyfriend, and mom that’s there for her Samara is the complete opposite. Her mom killed herself when Samara was little. For several years Samara has dealt with the pain, anger and loneliness by cutting. She keeps to herself has no friends. Her dad isn’t there for her emotionally and is caught up in his work.

It is when Dee is in Samara’s world to find her mother that she meets Samara. She has figured out by this point that Samara is her reflection after seeing her and dollowing her around secretly. She did find her mom and her mom came back through the mirror. Her mom thought she just fainted or something and Dee couldn’t find the words to tell her about another world behind the mirror.

Dee and Samara officially met in a coffie shop. When Dee went to the bathroom and Samara followed she saw them both in the mirror and was shocked and horrified. Dee gently explained about the mirror world and how they’re each other’s reflections. And quickly Samara figured why not her life couldn’t get any more lonely. Why not talk to her reflection.

Dee and Samara realized that they could only walk through the mirror when they were each at a mirror. And that they could actually walk through and be in the same room at the same time. Dee suggested that they switch places just for a day. Samara was reluctant but agreed. They switched places. Samara got to meet Dee’s mom, who was actually they believe Samara’s mom back from the dead. Dee got to meet Samara’s dad which wasn’t a big deal until later in the day.

The first shocking thing that happened was that they realized that when they switch places they switch bodies. So dee in Samara’s body saw all the scars. This was something that in all the time the two had been talking which was a month or so before the switch, Samara hadn’t told her. She was quite betrayed but also very worried for Samara.

Dee as Samara tried to connect with a girl from school that Samara had known awhile back. She figured that Samara would appreciate having a friend when she returned.

Meanwhile Samara in Dee’s world didn’t quite know what to say around Dee’s mom/ her mom. She almost called her the name of the substitute teacher as that’s who she had been in her life when she last saw her. She realized that since Dee’s mom didn’t really know that she was Samara’s dead mother and Samara was pretending to be Dee it couldn’t be this awesome reunion.

Samara did meet Jamie and she did tell Jamie that she was Samara and not dee. Dee had forgot to tell Jamie that they were switching places but he seemed to understand.

Meeting in the afternoon at the mirror Dee said how upset she was about Samara’s self-harming and that Dee was gonna tell Samara’s dad.

Samara was so mad that she said they weren’t going to switch back the next day. That she’d let Dee handle whatever happened as a result of her telling.

By the next day Dee had told Samara’s Dad. He was very uncomfortable, didn’t know how to react but was quick to get her help. He found this week long “rehab” type place in another state. At some point Samara did switch and had to actually go to the rehab. Her time there wasn’t very detailed. She was with other girls who had cut themselves, but also ones with substance abuse, eating disorders, and other issues. She mentioned talking to a psychiatrist a couple of times, and some nurses. Sort of getting along with the girls but many knew one another from previous hospitalizations. She didn’t seem to get much out of it except to feel very stigmatized like now she would be known as the girl who was put in a mental institution. She really wouldn’t like all the hospitalizations my friends and I have been through I guess or living at Albany if she thinks that not very fleshed out short stay was a problem.

So needless to say she was pretty mad at Dee.

On the day that Samara had decided to stay one more day in dee’s world, she ended up getting very sexually intimate with Jamie without telling him it was Samara and not Dee. She had said that she was back as Dee. She thought she deserved this experience of having one sexual incounter that didn’t happen through boys manipulating her or her being drunk. She would have this little secret for herself and no one would have to know.

It took a few weeks before Samara actually looked for Dee who seemed furious at her. They had this huge argument where Samara basically said that Dee had ruined her life, that she had this invisible stamp on her forehead practically from being at the rehab. Now she also had to attend a weekly support group, that seemed to sort of run like a 12 step meeting where people got medals for days “clean” from cutting.

Dee was just as angry saying Samara had ruined her life. It turned out that when Samara had sex with Jamie dee got pregnant.

The two were shocked. Samara tried to smooth things over. She and Dee had a tentative off and on relationship over the pregnancy as Dee and her family struggled with the decision.

Meanwhile Samara covered all her mirrors feeling like the best thing to do would be to get Dee out of her life forever. She started to put all her energy into a relationship with a girl named Tayna from the support group. Who seemed a wise and down to earth person. Until one day she up and decided to move to Arizona and be a chicken farmer! Yeah seriously. And she wanted Samara to go with her. She had graduated high school I should say, and she had convinced Samara to get her GED wherever they’d end up. At first Samara was drawn in by the lure of starting her whole life over again and being whoever. But at the last minute she realized she can’t run away from herself and had to make things right.

The ending is good I guess, kind of too happy. But Samara does seem to have some peace with herself and her mother’s death. Dee seemed to have made the right decision around the pregnancy which I won’t give away. And Samara wasn’t cutting anymore.

But yeah just weird. I feel like the author like I said was trying to combine science fiction and realistic fiction and it kind of was ok but not the best. I think what suffered was the realistic fiction part. Especially around the self-harm. It’s like she really didn’t seem to know how exactly SI is treated so she was like yeah, I’m sure it’s just like addiction. So we’ll just say this person goes to rehab and to some group where they talk about not cutting but who knows what they actually talk about!

I think what happened around Dee’s pregnancy was realistic in terms of her boyfriend’s and mom’s reactions and mixed emotions and her thought process and what ended up happening. But I would be disappointed if someone who never heard of cutting read this and only came away with the main thing about it being the scenes of cutting, and not how it was stopped clearly identified. I would also hate to be someone recovering from SI and reading the book to see how clearly this author doesn’t know anything about it. It’s such a serious issue that I feel like if anyone’s gonna write about it they really need to do their research. You can’t just half make something up.

I did like the alternate universe mirror thing. But like I said very mixed review. Probably won’t read it again.

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