Monday, August 11, 2014

The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts (1980)

This girl.  Has silver eyes.  And looks totally 80s.
The Girl with the Silver Eyes was one of those books that hung around the periphery of my adolescence. I didn't own a copy, so it must have been in my junior high / high school library (they were one and the same).  It made an impact on me, enough to remember it as an adult.  I think that has to do with the subject matter, and the time period in which I was reading it.
Let's say I first read The Girl With Silver Eyes as a seventh or eighth grader.  I probably re-read it at least once as a high school student (I have never been discriminatory towards books based on age or reading level; as a teenager I continued to occasionally read the books of my childhood).  At that time, particularly in eighth grade, I would have slowly but surely been realizing I was different from the other boys.   I only wish I had telekinesis or could talk to cats like the girl with silver eyes.  But I was only - boringly comparatively speaking - gay. Being gay and being Katie with the silver eyes did have a lot in common, something that smacked me in the head reading this as a grownup.  

Katie was different from everyone else in a way that was noticeable. So was I.  Even if I didn't know I was gay, other people did.
Katie kept part of her life a secret.  So did I.
She found out there were others like her out there, and was desperate to meet them, so she could feel normal and be with her own kind.  I felt the same way.

I don't think I knew that the book resonated with me because of that back in 8th grade; but I can certainly conclude that now.

As books go, this is typical 80s fare.  There is more in this book about Katie's relationship to her mother and her mother's boyfriends than her special powers. It's sort of like if Judy Blume wrote Harry Potter.   I think if this book were written now, there'd be more attention paid to the powers, and there would definitely be a sequel.  We don't even know what happens to Katie and her kind - the book just ends!  Which didn't really bother me way back when, and certainly doesn't bother me now.  

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If Judy Blume (or maybe Cynthia Voigt) wrote Harry Potter, you might have ended up with something like The Girl With the Silver Eyes. There is much attention paid to Katie's relationship with her uncaring mother and her mother's gross boyfriend, and less detail paid to Katie's special powers (not magical, but seemingly so).  The girl on the cover of the edition I read as a kid, and re-read as an adult, looks straight out of 1979.  I think I went to elementary school with this girl, sans silver eyes.  I think kids today would probably still read this, but may be bored by the lack of action; I also think that they'd clamor for a sequel (or two, or more). That didn't particularly bother me when I read this as a young teenager; it certainly doesn't now. (I probably gave this three stars for nostalgia's sake).

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