Eyes in the Mirror by Julia B. Mayer
Every teen girl fantasizes about having a double and best friend rolled into one-an alter ego with whom she can trade places, allowing her to disappear. Samara is a troubled and lonely adolescent, prone to cutting, who desperately craves both intimacy and escape from her unfulfilled life...until she meets her reflection, Dee, the seeming answer to all her problems.
With dual and dueling points of view, Eyes in the Mirror provides a perspective on one girl's life never before seen in YA fiction: her own and from her freer, wilder reflection.
Eyes in the Mirror ended up being nothing like I expected. At all.
I was expecting more of a psychological storyline, but apparently I should have taken the description a bit more literally than I did. Which ends up with the book being an extremely unique, creative vaguely contemporary fantasy story.
I was so pleased to see Julia Mayer tackling such difficult issues head on; and she captured the emotions and struggles with self-mutilation perfectly. Self-mutilation (and cutting in particular) can be treated as such a taboo and touchy subject, that few properly deal with it and it's particularly difficult to convey but Mayer accomplishes this beautifully. The background and descriptions of this are poignant and quite moving.
As well, Mayer writes the story from two points of view, which are the complete opposite of one another and yet she does this quite well. Samara and Dee come across as two very different people, and Mayer writes them with different voices. However, there were times at first when it was difficult to understand the chronology while trying to follow the two POV because of where they would overlap. As confusing as this could be, it also lended a better well-rounded understanding of the events taking place and it became easy to see how two girls could view the same action very differently.
I found some of the dialogue to be somewhat awkward and forced, but that was only occasionally throughout the book. It didn't take away from the overall theme or ambience of reading the book as a whole. What I found challenging was trying to figure out what there was to take away from the book at the end of it, besides the contrast between the two differing perspectives. The beginning was strong, but the ending felt like it was lacking in a satisfying culmination of events. To be honest, I simply failed to see what all the drama was worth in the end since many of the issues remained unsolved. I just wasn't convinced that everything was okay, but perhaps that's my need for a neat little ending where I feel like everything's been tied up nicely.
Parts of it were just so unbelievable, in particular the very premise that the novel was based on, yet none of the characteres questioned the events going on. They simply accepted it and tried to move on, ignoring the bizarre events occuring. And while I enjoy reading about strange, fanciful stories I like to hear more explanation of what's going on and why that's happening.
I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.
As well, Julia and Sourcebooks were kind enough to set me up with a small interview with her to go along with my review!
What motivated you to write Eyes in the Mirror?
I originally wrote Eyes in the Mirror as a short story when I was about 12. I was actually having trouble sleeping because the story kept running through my head and I knew it wouldn’t stop until I wrote it down. I started the book that came from the story when I saw a poster in my public high school (Bard High School Early College) advertising a novel writing program at 826NYC. I went to a coffee shop right after school, sat down and started writing.
What’s the most important thing you want readers to take away from Eyes in the Mirror?
The most important thing about this story for me has always been the dual perspectives. Eyes in the Mirror is the same story told from two points of view. I’ve always found it fascinating that two people, even really good friends, can view the same situations so differently and that’s what I really tried to get at in the book. I hate the idea of a friendship ending because two people with opposite perspectives and approaches each thought they were doing the right thing in a situation. I hope Eyes in the Mirror can inspire even one person to really look at a situation from someone else’s perspective.
Do you have any tips for writers?
The first and biggest piece of advice I can give is the simplest: WRITE!!!! Don’t listen to all of the “buts” in your head. Even if you don’t have a specific idea, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard if that’s your preference) and see what comes out. When I started Eyes in the Mirror I had no clue how it was going to end. Sit down and write- you’d be amazed at all the ideas swirling around. Which brings me to the next piece of advice: don’t delete/throw away anything. No matter how bad a draft seems in the moment, you might want it later. Better to create a folder for pieces you think you’ll never ever use than to lose something you might really want later. I also think it’s critical to listen to your characters. There are times where what I had plotted out just isn’t how a character would really react. Don’t get scared if your characters are controlling your story- they may bring it somewhere amazing.
Are you working on anything else right now?
I’m working on a couple of short stories but nothing I’m ready to share quite yet. I’m also starting to think about a sequel to Eyes in the Mirror. There are a few loose ends I’d like to tie up and a few side plots I’d really like to delve into. The next step for me is figuring out where a sequel would pick up.
What are some of your favourite books and who are some of your favourite authors?
My all time favorite book is 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. There are also companion short story books if you enjoy that. I loved Catch-22 and A Confederacy of Dunces, both classics. I am a huge YA fan so a lot of my favorite authors are YA authors. Megan McCafferty, who wrote the Jessica Darling series (which starts with Sloppy Firsts) is definitely one of them. I also love Dan Ehrenhaft’s writing (10 Things to Do Before I Die is FANTASTIC!), and the book The Turning by Helen Ellis. I could go on forever, but those are definitely at the top of my lists. I think all of these books are really character driven, which is what I love about them.
Thank you so much for taking part in an interview on my blog, Julia! I really appreciate your thoughtful answers and further insight into Eyes in the Mirror. She's really very sweet, and you can find her on Twitter, too!