by Elana K. Arnold
Sephora's life has never been easy, but she's always had her mother to love her and she's had art to keep her sane. As long as she has both, she can make it through anything, even the secret she's kept for the last few months.
Her mother's beauty is so amazing and enthralling that Sephora often compares her to a mermaid and focuses much of her art on recreating the emotions she and others feel when they look on her almost mythological beauty.
She's also fascinated by the grittier stories of fairy tales and mythology. The version that she loves best of Sleeping Beauty is harsh and filled with cruelty. It's truth feels more real to her than much of her own life.
Now she must face the summer before her senior year and find her way past her secret because there is no way she will share it with anyone.
Final thoughts: This is a good companion to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, though aimed at a more mature audience. The fairy tales and myths are told using the original, non-Disneyfied, versions with all the rape and cruelty shared by the Grimm Brothers and Bulfinch. The story itself really has no plot and is more of a coming of age tale as the reader is slowly immersed in Sephora's world and given insights into her reasoning. I have two real issues with this book: 1) is the focus on her mother's beauty. It's repeated over and over that her mother makes all heads turn, that she'd been a supermodel before she had gotten pregnant, and that it was her pregnancy that ruined her career. However, there are many models out there who've had families and then have successfully returned to their careers, so why couldn't Sephora's mom? Especially if she's such a head-turner? The second issue I have is the author's writing style with almost never using capital letters. It's so frustrating that there aren't even capital I's. I get that this is a choice that has been made, but when things like acronyms come up and the first letter is lowercase, but the next two are upper, it's annoying. Sephora's story is powerful, but it does get a little lost.