Review: Mannequin Girl: A Novel

Mannequin Girl: A Novel
Mannequin Girl: A Novel by Ellen Litman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“A moment comes, Kat thinks. A moment came. You’re a glitch in a plan, an unfortunate error, and even your parents don’t like who you’ve become. And once this knowledge sinks in, nothing else out there can scare you.” [p.247]

“Except, Kat knows, it won’t happen. Because being exceptional is nothing but a trap. It makes you obsessed with your significance, and also, it riddles you with doubt. You do harsh things when you believe yourself one of a kind. You push away those who love you and sneer at those you deem not good enough. She’s seen it up close. She’s done it herself all her life – believing that she had some sort of promise.” [p.346]

This is a little gem of a book. It deserves more stars but I’m hesitant because of the way it made me feel.

The story opens when Kat is young, just getting ready to begin school, to enter into the magical world of her glamorous, intellectual, slightly subversive teacher parents. She longs to become a pupil in their school and bask in their attention and praise for her exceptional intellect. An unexpected medical diagnosis derails her plans, sending her, instead, to a residential clinical school, where she is neither beloved nor special. By the time she is an adolescent and her parents have joined the faculty at her school, a distance has grown between them and she eventually becomes disenchanted.

Fascinating for the details of life in 1980s Russia. Deeply heartbreaking for the details of Kat’s longing for the attention her parents lavish on other students, and for the terrible mistakes she makes while trying to get it.

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