Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

When My Heart was Wicked

When My Heart was Wicked

Tricia Sterling
For ages 14 and up
Scholastic, 2015   ISBN: 978-0545695732

When Lacy was still very young, her parents split up. Lacy had to stay with her mother, and they lived lived in Sacramento. Her father moved to Chico and there he met and married Anna, a sweet woman who was eager to love Lacy. For years Lacy lived in her mother’s toxic environment. She was emotionally and physically abused by the woman and eventually, when Lacy was thirteen, her mother abandoned her. Anna and Lacy’s father quickly came to the rescue and took Lacy back to Chico, giving her their love and support.

   At first Lacy, with her black hair and eye makeup, was a dark and angry girl, but over time, in the gentle and nourishing environment in Chico, she began to shed her thorns and bloom. In the garden that Anna and her father planted for her, Lacy grew to love the plants, and she began to learn about herbalism. Sixteen year old Lacy now has friends she trusts and loves she is a part of the community in Chico.

   Then Lacy’s much loved father dies and the worst thing in the world happens. Lacy’s mother, Cheyenne, comes to claim her. Anna has no claim on Lacy and is helpless to prevent Cheyenne from taking Lacy away. Miserably, reluctantly Lacy travels to Sacramento with her beautiful, troubled, and neurotic mother. Her biggest fear is that she will, in Cheyenne’s world, lose all the goodness in her, that she will once again become the cruel and dark person she was before. Cheyenne uses a dark magic to get what she wants, and Lacy wants to have nothing to do with it. She wants to embrace the light, the healing magic that she discovered in Chico. The problem is that her mother always finds a way in, and Lacy does not know how to hold out against her.

   Lacy is not in Sacramento long before a boy, Drake, shows an interest in her. He courts her and almost manages to get Lacy to sleep with him, but thankfully she pulls back at the last minute. Lacy soon learns, the hard way, that all Drake wanted to do was to add her name to the long list of girls who gave in to him. He tells the whole school that she slept with him, and Lacy, without thinking too much about what she is doing, conjures up a spell of revenge in which she binds Drake in “your own dark hell.”

   To Lacy’s horror, Drake is involved in a car accident soon after the spell is cast. She is losing the self that she likes and is being taken over by that dark self that she fears. At this rate it won’t be long before she is a younger version of her mother.

   This is beautifully written, sometimes disturbing story, is threaded through with magic, loss, and self-discover. It is a story that young adults and adults alike will appreciate, a tale that explores the way in which one young woman fights to hold on to the goodness in her heart against terrible odds.