Review of Mirror to Mirror

Mirror to MirrorMirror to Mirror
by Rajani LaRocca
Middle School    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    352 pp.
3/23    9780063047471    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780063047488    $10.99

In this novel in verse, Maya and Chaya are identical seventh-grade twin sisters. Maya is hard on herself, always demanding perfection, while Chaya, chatty and impulsive, is “the goofball.” Both have a passion for music, are advanced in classical piano, love their summer music camp, and have serious “twin telepathy.” While these twins may seem like mirror images of each other, there are cracks in the surface: Maya experiences severe anxiety and believes that, because she broke a mirror, she’s at fault when bad things happen, while Chaya feels unseen in her more accomplished sister’s shadow. When Chaya decides that Maya’s anxiety is due to sibling competition, she quits all the activities they did together, causing a rift between the once-inseparable duo. LaRocca (Red, White, and Whole, rev. 5/21) explores the irony in the fact that, in trying to help and support the ones we love, we may actually hurt them. The book alternates emotionally intense, earnest poems between the two sisters’ perspectives. The poems have many memorable lines and engage with sophisticated formal elements such as thoughtful line breaks, italics, white space, and concrete poetry. A shocking twist ending reveals the lengths to which the twins will go to preserve their unique bond. While all eventually ends well, this nuanced novel explores complex aspects of family and sibling dynamics and will give readers much to ponder.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Hakim Azzam

Julie Hakim Azzam is the assistant director of the MFA program in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in literary and cultrual studies, with a specialization in comparative contemporary postcolonial literature from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia. Her most recent work focuses on children's literature, stories about immigrants and refugees, and youth coping with disability.

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