Title: The Girl In The Broken Mirror
Author: Savita Kalhan
Publisher: Troika Books
Published: May 1st 2018
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟
Jay’s creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with ‘they lived happily ever after’. But the way her life is panning out she’s not sure it will ever reach that stage. A powerful moving gripping story which explores themes of family, loyalty and culture clash but is ultimately about hope and understanding.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Trigger warning for rape and suicide attempt.
The Girl In The Broken Mirror opens with the aftermath of Jay’s rape by a member of her extended family. This book isn’t about rape; it’s about family, love, loss and recovery. But, unless you know about the main subject matter – rape – there is no indication from the synopsis of what you’re going in to.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, but there are plenty of things that I liked. I enjoyed reading about Jay’s struggle with her British-Asian identity, and the ‘backwardness’ of her Aunt’s family. The culture clash isn’t just about what clothes we wear in public or how well we can speak in our native tongues. Quite often, it can be the small things that cause the most drama, like whether we use cutlery or our hands to eat, the former leading relatives to question parenting skills because it means we’re just too westernised. I think the book captured this authentically – for example, when Jay moves in with Aunty V, she knows she can’t see her school friends anymore because they’re not Indian.
I also loved some of the characters in this story. Ash was quiet but caring, Sita demonstrated how far a little kindness from a stranger can really go and Jay’s mother, Neela, continued to try no matter how much Jay blamed her for everything that happened. I didn’t agree with some of the things Jay did, or at least I found it quite hard to believe some of the things she did. But, I did like how the author presented her recovery – from the breaking-down of her relationships with Matt and her mother to the days she felt strong and the days she didn’t.
Overall, this is the kind of book that has been long needed in UKYA. I don’t think it has much of a plot and the ending feels a bit abrupt, but it tackles themes that aren’t just ‘taboo’ topics in young adult fiction but also the culture that is represented.