Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The very ordered existence of Merilee Marvelous

The very ordered existence of Merilee Marvelous

Suzanne Crowley
For ages 12 and up
HarperCollins, 2007   ISBN: 0061231983

Merilee has her life organized just the way she wants it. It is a VOE, or  a very organized existence. Her days are planned down to the last minute - just about - and this means that she always knows what to expect. Merilee is different and she does not fit in. Her grandmother is mean to her, her sister Bug teases her, and the only person who seems to accept her as she is, is her Uncle Dal. He does not mind that Merilee is awkward. He does not care that she has a developmental disorder.

Then one day everything changes. Biswick O’Connor arrives in town with his father who is an Irish poet. Biswick is chatty, friendly, inquisitive, and her likes to follow Merilee around asking questions and telling her facts that he knows. Merilee resents Biswick’s attention and she tries to stay out of his way. Biswick’s arrival is followed by the arrival of Veraleen Holliday, a very large lady who loves to cook, to care for others, and who has a big, kind heart. Together Veraleen and Biswick upset Merilee’s VOE. Her life becomes unpredictable, and strange things frequently happen. Worst of all, Merilee begins to realize that she cannot always sit on the sidelines, sometimes she just cannot avoid life.

This incredible book explores the ways in which relationships and connections can change a person. Merilee is ‘special,’ and she isolates herself from her surroundings as much as possible, because being touched and talked to makes her uncomfortable.  Of course, it isn’t always possible to keep life out, and this is the story of how Merilee copes when life breaks down the walls that she has so carefully built around herself.

Written from Merilee’s point of view, this is a story that is memorable, poignant, and powerful.