cover image The Girl with the Mermaid Hair

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair

Delia Ephron, . . HarperTeen, $16.99 (312pp) ISBN 978-0-06-154260-2

Sukie Jamieson, the vain yet glaringly insecure teenage protagonist of Ephron's (Frannie in Pieces ) second YA novel, has a lot on her mind. Is her hair—“worthy of worship”—in its proper place? Does the slope of her nose accentuate or detract from her almost-perfect profile? Will star quarterback Bobo, who tells her, “I really like your body-fat ratio,” ever ask her out? Matters get only slightly less trivial when her faux-glam mother returns from an extended stay at the spa with a facelift (but even less self-esteem), and her father gets beat up by an unknown man. Ephron keeps the reason for the assault under wraps for quite a while, and the gravity of Sukie's parents' collapsing marriage is overshadowed by Sukie's complaints about her image and want of friends, and her mother's plastic surgery woes. The parallels to the descent of a certain Oscar Wilde character are obvious, and teens who use this book like Sukie uses her grandmother's antique full-length mirror, which cracks and erodes over the course of the novel, may be similarly conflicted about what they see. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)