Monday, June 21, 2010

The Blue Mirror, by Kathe Koja

The Blue Mirror

Maggy is a teenager from a troubled home.  Her parents split up when she was young, with her dad moving to another state, and her mom getting lost in a world full of booze.  Maggy's favorite escape is a local coffee shop called The Blue Mirror.  Here, she sits at her favorite table, and draws the world around her.  Slowly, she transforms this into a whole new world within her sketch book, a world she also calls the Blue Mirror.  One evening, she meets Cole, a boy living on the streets.  Maggy falls under his spell quickly, feeling loved for the first time in ages.  As time moves along, however, Maggy starts to see things about Cole that she finds troubling.  Will she be able to escape his influence in time?

One of my goals is to expand my reading genres, so I decided to dive into this young adult novella.  I was surprised to find this young adult book to be so dark.  I guess that speaks to the challenges and influences young adults face today.  Within these few short pages, we deal with broken families, alcoholism, teenage homelessness, abuse, theft, and casual sex.  In some ways, I think it may be a bit much for some young adult readers to handle.  Yet there is power and hope to be found in the story.  Maggy fights the good fight, and there is a theme of redemption for several of the characters.

The characters were well developed for such a short book, and I liked that the reader got to interpret for themselves if Cole was actually some evil supernatural force or just a highly manipulative young man.  At times, the plot was a little difficult to determine, but I got the impression that this was intentional, to represent life as seen through the life of a teenager.  I loved the descriptions of Maggy's artistic ability, and the fact that this was so supported by various characters in the book.  It served as a great source of healing for her, and I think more kids need to see that type of encouragement.

Overall, this book was gripping and well written, and I would be interested in reading more by Kathe Koja.  I would recommend this book for more mature young adults, particularly those with artistic talents themselves.