Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Waters & the Wild

The Waters & the Wild

Francesca Lia Block
For ages 12 and up
HarperTeen, 2009   ISBN: 978-0061452444

For as long as she can remember Bee has felt as if she does not belong in her world. She is an outsider who does her best to fit, and yet she does not really succeed. Bee struggles in school, and does not know how to “act with people.” She cannot eat meat and has no interest in watching television, going shopping, or socializing with kids her own age. In fact, the only thing that really gives her joy is working in the garden among the flowers and trees. There, all alone, she can feel at peace. Sort of.

One morning Bee wakes up to see that there is a girl, a girl who looks like her, standing in her room. The girl says “You are me,” and then she disappears. Not surprisingly, Bee is very disturbed by this bizarre occurrence. Who was the girl; or what was she? Bee decides to consult Haze, a boy at school who is weird, just like she is. Haze believes that he is part alien and he has a fascination for paranormal things. Bee has never heard the boy speak so she isn’t sure what he will do when she asks him about the strange girl who appeared in her room. Haze tells her that such doubles are called dopplegangers. Bee looks the word up, and  she finds out that doubles of this kind are also called fetches and, for some reason that she does not understand, the name unsettles her.

Then Bee meets another weird person, a girl called Sarah who thinks that she is the reincarnation of her slave ancestor. Soon Bee, Haze, and Sarah start hanging out together. Bee starts to enjoy her life a little because she is with people who don’t care that she different. Suddenly the beauty that exists in the world, the beauty Bee has not been able to see thus far, starts to reveal itself as she gets comfortable with the two people who are now her “kindred.”  At the same time Bee struggles to understand why the fetch keeps visiting her, and why it tells her “You have my life,” and “Give it the hell back.”

Could it be that Bee is not meant to be here at all?

This haunting, bittersweet novel introduces us to a girl who is a misfit of epic proportions. The interesting thing is that just when the fetch starts appearing, Bee finally meets people who make her life better and happier. Perhaps the best part of their interaction is the way in which friendship changes the teens. It give all three of them the opportunity to start over.