The Looking Glass by Janet McNally
Harper Teen, 2018, 325 pages
Trigger Warnings: addiction, substance abuse
About the Author: Janet McNally is a writer and poet who earned her MFA in Fiction at the University of Notre Dame and now teaches creative writing at Canisius College. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband and three daughters. Her book of poems, Some Girls, won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize in 2014. She’s participated twice in fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2008 and 2015. Many of her stories and poems have been in publications like Gettysburg Review, Best New Poets 2012, Boulevard, and much more.
“I want to say something — I was fine up there or maybe I think there’s something wrong with me — but instead I just say, “Okay.”
Sylvie and her older sister, Julia, were dancers, specifically in ballet. Julia was a really amazing dancer, until she started to struggle with addiction and disappeared. Sylvie had the pressures of continuing on her sister’s legacy, while also dealing with the feeling of lostness throughout the story by not having her older sister to confide in anymore. McNally uses fairytale elements in the story to create imaginary characters that Sylvie feels like she has to save since it seemed like they’re in “trouble.” Sylvie goes on a journey with close friends to help her figure out unanswered questions and whereabouts of her loved one, while also exploring new love interests along the way.
The Looking Glass is a mysterious story that follows a young girl named Sylvie as she searches for her sister. Throughout the novel, McNally reveals the toll drug addiction takes on the individual themselves and also their friends and family. McNally does a great job with voicing her main character’s feelings and thoughts about every situation she goes through and in the end shows that not knowing everything about a situation is sometimes for the best.
PRR Writer, Ajia Barnes
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