Reviews for Girl in the Mirror : A Novel in Poems and Journal Entries


Booklist Reviews 2012 April #1
At the heart of this YA novel is high-school-senior Lizzie's search for her birth mother or, rather, the adopted teen's conflicts about whether she really wants to search. Why did her birth mother give her away? Told in journal entries and many poetic forms--from villanelles and blues poems to free verse (all explained in detailed notes at the back)--this may be best for writers' groups. Those who have not read the first book about Lizzie, The Secret of Me (2007), may sometimes find it hard to keep track of the huge cast of all her friends, family, boyfriends, and workmates. What will grab readers is Lizzie's personal voice, the universal drama of coming-of-age, her grief at the death of her beloved father, and, especially, the tense confusion of her search. A powerful what-if poem captures her dread about meeting her birth mother: "What if she doesn't like me? . . . What if she's married and I'm her Big Secret?" Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Lizzie McLane (The Secret of Me) has just received a letter from the adoption agency with information about her birth mother. But her adoptive father unexpectedly dies that same day, and everything else falls away. The poetic forms vary greatly, but the voice is clearly and distinctly Lizzie through them all. A beautifully wrought story with memorable characters and true-to-life issues.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #4
Lizzie McLane (The Secret of Me, 2005) is on the cusp of an exciting future: high school graduation is right around the corner, and she has just received a long-awaited letter from the adoption agency with information about her birth mother. But her adoptive father unexpectedly dies that same day, and everything else falls away. It is with this excruciating event that Kearney's coming-of-age novel in poems and journal entries begins. Lizzie loses interest in (and control of) her life, engages in dangerous behavior, and lets her most important relationships deteriorate. Despite her poor decisions, however, she never comes off as an immature, rebellious teen. Her problems are rooted in real, understandable pain, and due to the immediacy and palpability of her hurt in the sometimes elegant, at other times biting poems, we don't blame her for a thing. Lizzie is wise, insightful, creative, and impossible not to invest in as she spirals down and then rebounds; we, too, breathe a sigh of relief as she feels "something heavy inside / begin, very slowly, to lift." The poetic forms employed vary greatly (all explained in the appended "Guide to This Book's Poetics"), but the voice is clearly and distinctly Lizzie through them all. The poems and entries are each strong enough to stand alone but smoothly coalesce into a beautifully wrought story with memorable characters and true-to-life issues. katrina hedeen

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #2
Before Lizzie McLane can search for her birth mother, she first needs to find herself. In The Secret of Me (2005), a novel in verse, 14-year-old Lizzie began a quest to discover her place within her adoptive family. Three years older in this stand-alone sequel, also told in verse and journal entries, the now–high-school senior has started the process of looking for her birth mother. Her introductory entry briefly recounts the history of the prior book and delivers a shocker: Her father passed away on the same day that a letter with non-identifying information about her birth mother arrived from the adoption agency. Lizzie's deeply felt poems depict her sudden downward spiral. She mourns the loss of what was and what could have been, joins her older coworkers in late-night partying and drinking and tries to reconcile her feelings about her old boyfriend and a sensitive, guitar-playing romantic possibility. When her change in lifestyle results in losing close friends and a near rape, Lizzie realizes that she no longer recognizes the girl she sees in the mirror. Kearney, an adoptee herself, ends with information about adoption support groups and resources. She also offers a guide to many of the poems' forms (ballads, pantoums, villanelles, etc.) and structures. Fans of Helen Frost will admire the attention to both poetics and story. (Poetry. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 June #2

"It was April first, a trick!/ Mom's voice said Dad was dead./ He couldn't walk through that door./ I thought it was a joke," says high school senior Lizzie McLane, first seen in The Secret of Me (2007), in this introspective novel in verse about grief and biological origins. Nothing could be more devastating for Lizzie than her adoptive father's fatal heart attack: with the support of her parents, Lizzie was going to seek out her birth mother. Now nothing feels important. It's only through writing journal entries and poems, which range from free verse to pantoums, that she slowly feels her way through the darkness. With grace and honesty, Lizzie shares the blurry aftermath of her father's death--the wake, the funeral, and graduation, followed by a summer of numbing her pain with alcohol. Kearney tenderly explores Lizzie's anger, sadness, and ambivalence about her identity as she grapples with whether to risk being hurt by the mother she never knew or to approach the future without first claiming her past. Ages 14-up. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

"It was April first, a trick!/ Mom's voice said Dad was dead./ He couldn't walk through that door./ I thought it was a joke," says high school senior Lizzie McLane, first seen in The Secret of Me (2007), in this introspective novel in verse about grief and biological origins. Nothing could be more devastating for Lizzie than her adoptive father's fatal heart attack: with the support of her parents, Lizzie was going to seek out her birth mother. Now nothing feels important. It's only through writing journal entries and poems, which range from free verse to pantoums, that she slowly feels her way through the darkness. With grace and honesty, Lizzie shares the blurry aftermath of her father's death--the wake, the funeral, and graduation, followed by a summer of numbing her pain with alcohol. Kearney tenderly explores Lizzie's anger, sadness, and ambivalence about her identity as she grapples with whether to risk being hurt by the mother she never knew or to approach the future without first claiming her past. Ages 14-up. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June

Gr 9 Up--Lizzie McLane knows how lucky she is to be with her adoptive parents, but she's curious about her birth mother. Her family requests information about her, but when Lizzie's dad has a heart attack on his way to work, dying in the car, Lizzie's massive grief stalls her need to know about the woman who gave her up for adoption. At first, the 17-year-old can't even find solace in the writing and poetry that she adored. Her faithful friends are there for her, and her family tries to surround her with love even as they all grieve, but nothing brings her comfort. She tries to escape her sadness by drinking, partying, trying to get to "a place I call The World That Time Forgot," and wondering about her birth mother. Eventually poetry seems to help. Told through verse and journal entries, this novel chronicles Lizzie's journey of grief, her relationships, and her personal evolution. It's beautifully and lyrically written, making the teen's sorrow palpable, and the relationships and interactions feel real. Lizzie shows up first in The Secret of Me (Persea Bks., 2005), but this follow-up stands on its own. A section at the end explains the types of poetry included and the people, places, and agencies referenced in the book.--Melyssa Kenney, Parkville High School, Baltimore, MD

[Page 124]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2012 June
The way Lizzie tells it, her life took a 90-degree turn. When she was born, her birth mother went one way and she went another--into foster care.  She has come to realize, however, that she is proud her family was formed by choice. Her parents have promised to help her solve the mystery of her birth mother, and together they agreed that they would take that step when Lizzie turns seventeen.  But the day the letter from the adoption agency arrives, her life takes another drastic turn--her father dies. So Lizzie writes, chronicling her journey through pain, loss, and discovery in poems and poetic journal entries Journaling can be a rather dull exercise in self-absorption, but this novel in journal entries is just the opposite: engaging from the first. The author has created a character with a compelling and honest voice whose day-to-day experiences ring true. As the beautifully crafted plot unfolds, Lizzie, in her grief, takes a wrong turn but then finds the strength to right herself. Most fascinating of all is the way Lizzie's intense personal narrative is so deftly expressed in various poetic forms, some formally rhyming and some free verse.  She employs the ballad, the blues poem, the sonnet, and the pantoum, among others. Kearny explains Lizzie's choices in her "Guide To This Book's Poetics" at the end of the book.  Affecting and intriguing, this novel stands with the best.--Marla K. Unruh Although the physical journey of Lizzie McLane, the main character in The Girl in the Mirror: A Novel in Poems and Journal Entries, lacks detail and thorough explanation, her emotional journey is well-described and constructed. Come prepared for a bombardment of delightfully descriptive language; be warned, however, that because the protagonist is an adolescent, some of the pieces feel scattered or even juvenile. Kearney's novel is a well-executed quick read, written for a unique audience. 4Q, 2P.--Nicole Jacques, Teen Reviewer 5Q 4P M J S  Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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