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LIKE A THORN by Clara Vidal Kirkus Star


by Clara Vidal & translated by Y. Maudet

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: June 10th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-73564-3
Publisher: Delacorte

Mélie lives with an erratic, terrifying mother who has two personalities: Rosy Mother and Dark Mother. One bakes sweets, the other spits venom. Mélie’s consequent psychological torment, creeping madness and emotional paralysis drift quietly just beneath the surface of this novel, which eschews traditional plotting in favor of a series of unnerving scenes that convey all. Vidal’s brilliant evocation of color and imagery deftly describes how the mercurial Mother shatters her child’s psyche. Simple, abbreviated language strings together horrific memories, frightening imaginings and unending abuse. Pinks and blacks saturate the novel, while thorns and claws tear at the corners of Mélie’s mind. Childhood memories surface as glimmering shards—beautifully rendered, painfully acute tableaux. Vidal’s minimalism, her economic use of breathtaking scenes and images, manages to capture bottomless despair. Fairy-tale motifs enrich a modern-day story, endowing it with a good mother, a wicked mother, a lost girl and even incantations to ward off darkness. This tightly woven novel leaves the reader entranced, hoping Mélie can survive her teen years and somehow live happily ever after. (Fiction. 12 & up)