Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Jackson Pearce
For ages 14 and up
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012   ISBN: 978-0316207782

Celia, Jane and Anne are triplets, three teenage girls whose mother has died, whose father has Alzheimer’s and has no idea who they are, and whose brothers are busy spending their father’s money. An uncle in California sends the girls an allowance and they live all year round in a dorm in their boarding school. The girls are very close not just because they look alike and because their share a dire family situation. They are also close because they all have powers that no one else knows about: Celia can look into a person’s past, Jane knows a person’s present, and Anne knows a person’s future. All the girls have to do is to touch a person and they know.

   Anne and Jane are not shy to use their gifts to manipulate and use people. They find it entertaining to use what they can find out about people for their own benefit. Celia refuses to do this. So much of what she sees in people’s pasts is dark and sad, and so she does not want go there.

   One night Celia leaves her happy sisters at the Pavilion, a seaside carnival complete with rides, hotdogs and ice cream. She wanders out onto the pier and to her horror she watches as a young guitar-playing musician falls into the ocean. She runs down to the beach and sees a girl dragging the boy out of the water towards the beach. The girls work together to pull the boy up onto the sand and then Celia tells the girl to help her do CPR. She touches the girl’s arm and finds out in that moment that the girl is called Naida. Celia calls the girl by the name and soon after Naida disappears. Back into the water.

   The following evening Celia goes to the beach and Naida comes to see her. Celia finds out that Naida is an ocean girl. She once was human called Naida, but now she lives in the ocean and she does not remember her past. She has a new name, Lo, but she wants to know who she was before she became an ocean girl.  The only person who can help Lo find out about Naida is Celia, and Celia loves the fact that her power is actually useful for a change.

  As the days go by Celia and Lo meet again and again, trying to find out more about Naida and trying to understand what Lo really is. The other ocean girls, Lo’s ‘sisters,’ are mostly content with their lives. They do not mind that they do not remember their human names and their human lives. They do not mind that they do not remember how they came to become ocean girls. They wholeheartedly believe that one day the “angel” who brought them to the ocean will come to take them to some kind of heavenly place.

  Not fully understanding what is going on, Celia spends time with her sisters, Jude (the boy she saved) and Lo. She never imagines that Lo’s former life as Naida was full of suffering, loss, and violence. She never imagines that she and the ocean girl are going to uncover a terrible and dangerous secret.

   In this gripping and often terrifying book readers will get wrapped up in the stories of three personas, two of which are battling for supremacy inside one girl. It is fascinating to see how Naida and Lo try to come to terms with who and what they are, and how Celia tries to help both of them. As the story unfolds we see Celia change from being a submissive character to one who empowers herself and who risks everything to help someone else.