From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–This novel mixes themes of betrayal, independence, and psychological manipulation with recognizable ancient Greek myths in a modern-day setting. A conniving psychologist pits two gifted, home-schooled siblings against one another, the narcissist Ivan and younger, more vulnerable Hilly (likened to Persephone). In alternating chapters, carefully paced to escalate the tension, each one tells about the assaults on their formerly close relationship. Hilly grows and finds her inner strength while Ivan simply refuses to change until his self-image cracks. Well executed in its setup, in its foreboding aura, and in the feel of each person's voice, the end result is unfortunate; the underlying character motivations are unconvincing. With the exception of Ivan's urgently earnest psychobabble (sickness can…be utilized as a mode of defense, a deep moat of illness around the castle of personality), neither one of the siblings appears to be either extraordinary or worth the machinations of the villain, whose evil actions are themselves unbaked. Still, for some sophisticated readers, the sense of paranoia and mythological references will resonate with deeply felt significance.–Rhona Campbell, Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, Washington, DC
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Told in alternating chapters in the voices of a brother and sister, this harrowing, intense tale has a vividly drawn cast. Hilly and her older brother, Ivan, have been homeschooled by loving parents. To Ivan's great scorn, Hilly chooses to be part of a local high school's literary magazine; then a friend she makes there commits suicide. Pushed into therapy, Hilly is manipulated both by her brother and by her controlling therapist. Her voice is sad and loving and smart; his is equally smart, but self-centered. Both are near terrifying in the precise ways she recognizes her emotions, and he uses them as weapons. The therapist himself is a professional leech who publishes the work of the adolescent girls he treats and uses all kinds of emotional blackmail to get what he wants. The myths of Persephone and of Narcissus figure powerfully in the matrix of the story, which doesn't so much end as stop in a particular, possibly healing, place. GraceAnne DeCandidoCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved