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Girls In Trouble

Janet McNally's The Looking Glass is a modern fairytale about ballet, road trips, and the darkness of addiction.

Girls In Trouble

BOOK REPORT for The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Cover Story: Pastel Pretty
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Running In The Shadows
Bonus Factors: Road Trips, Fleetwood Mac, Ballet
Relationship Status: You Make Loving Fun

Cover Story: Pastel Pretty

This cover is really gorgeous and whimsical, and let me tell you, it's better than a LOT of covers out there. But I don't think it quite captures the darkness within these pages.

The Deal:

Sylvie Blake has been trying to keep it together ever since her sister Julia disappeared. Julia was the star dancer at the National Ballet Theatre Academy, and since she's been gone, Sylvie has stepped into her older sister's pointe shoes. But when Sylvie receives a mysterious gift in the mail--a book of fairy tales that she and Julia used to read together--with a handwritten list inside, strange things begin happening to Sylvie. Things like princesses in parks, wolves with girls in red hoods, and owls that seem to stare right through her. Are they real, or is Sylvie beginning to lose her grip on reality?

Unsure of what's happening to her, Sylvie decides to skip her fancy dance camp and head out on a road trip with her best friend's older brother, Jack, to track down her sister. As Sylvia searches, the list in her fairytale book begins to weave another tale--one of dark secrets, addiction, and Julia's struggle to protect her family from herself.

BFF Charm: Yay

I'll admit, I was a little hesitant going into this book, simply because I had some preconceived notions and prejudices about ballerinas. SORRY to all the ballerinas out there, it's just that ballet pop culture has told me that ballerinas can be neurotic and controling and sometimes murderous. Sylvie definitely had her fair share of neuroses, but who of us doesn't, am I right? In fact, despite her slight obsession with finding her sister, I found Sylvia to be pretty chill. I liked her wry sense of humor, her curiosity, and her passion for dance. 10/10 would take a road trip with.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

It was Sylvie's best friend Sadie who decided that her older brother Jack would be Sylvie's chauffer on her quest to find Julia. It's hard to say whether Sadie knew what she was doing, but it's pretty clear that despite Jack's enigmatic behavior toward Sylvie over the years, there's ~something~ going on there. And I love nothing more than watching two people who don't realize they're into each other yet embark on a road trip together. Jack is a man of refined tastes. He loves Kurt Vonnegut, Fleetwood Mac, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and for this, he is a man after my own heart.

I will say, though, that for a road trip book, there was not a single instance of one-bed-hotel-rooms and for that, I was a tad disappointed.  

Talky Talk: Running In The Shadows

This is a contemporary-bordering-on-magical-realism book--McNally's writing is beautifully lyrical and whimsical, but she's always able to ground that with realistic dialogue and wry humor. Yet just like the ballet that Sylvie and Julia dedicated their lives to, there's a darkness shimmering under the surface of this book's frothy beauty that lends it a bit of gravitas. McNally does not just hand over this story, she teases it out in little bits, giving the reader just enough information and letting their imagination do the rest. Julia's story unfolds slowly and ominously, the dark to Sylvie's light.

Bonus Factor: Road Trips

Yes, hello, you can always sign me up for a road trip with a cute boy, preferably your best friend's older brother. Or your older brother's best friend. Or some combination of the sort.

Bonus Factor: Fleetwood Mac

When Sylvie sets off on her road trip, Jack is only listening to one musical artist for a full month at a time. Which is basically a road trip nightmare, except that the current month's artist of choice is Best Band Ever: Fleetwood Mac. And I'll just add that a certain witchy, gypsy woman makes a delightful cameo in these pages.

Bonus Factor: Ballet

I haven't taken ballet since I was, like, four, but there's something so magical about it as an art form. Hearing it described by Sylvie, who is a ballet ~star~, makes me want to get tickets to see my local ballet company ASAP.

Relationship Status: You Make Loving Fun

I'll admit that you and I got off on a slow start, Book. I was a little weary of where you'd take me in those early chapters, but once we hit the road together, I never looked back.

Literary Matchmaking:

  

● If you like your dark ballerina stories with a bit more magic (and ghosts!), check out The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.

● If you want your road trips with a bit more only-one-bed action, check out Someone Else's Summer by Rachel Bateman.

● And for a book about the strong ties between sisters, that also happens to involve a road trip with a cute boy, give Saving June by Hannah Harrington a try.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the lame cranberry ones) for writing this review. The Looking Glass is available now.

Rosemary Hallmark's photo About the Author: Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her cute husband and even cuter dog. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. (She's still got a soft spot for the swoony, contemporary stuff.) A former magazine editor, she is now a freelance writer, graphic designer, art director and photo stylist. The rest of her time is spent drinking cocktails, renovating her house and laughing at her husband's ridiculous Pretty Little Liars theories.
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