Among Others by Jo Walton
Tor Books, New York, 2010
Borrowed from my library. I have to thank Nymeth for bringing this one to my attention.
Jo Walton’s epigraph for Among Others:
This is for all the libraries in the world, and the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people.
Among Others is story of Morwenna, a girl caught between the everyday world and the world of magic. Having lost her twin sister, suffering multiple injuries in an accident running away from her half-crazed mother, and meeting her father and his family for the first time, Mori finds herself in a private school, an outsider with no desire to be anything else.
Told in a series of diary entries, this is one of the best presentations of a certain time in adolescence, of feeling “alien” amidst “normality”, and of learning to navigate peer-pressure, relationships and social connection that I have read.
I don’t think I’m like other people. I mean on some deep fundamental level. It’s not just being half a twin and reading a lot and seeing fairies. It’s not just being outside when their all inside. I used to be inside. I think there’s a way I stand aside and look backwards at things when they are happening which isn’t normal. It’s a thing you need to do for doing magic. From page 169.
One of the most interesting things about Among Others is the understated part that magic plays. The reader can choose to believe that magic occurs in Mori’s life or that Mori uses the idea of magic to explain all the chaos and sadness in her life, to protect herself from ugly reality. Walton pulls this off very subtly. I was left a bit unbalanced, as if shifting from on foot to the other, not an unpleasant experience.
This novel is a love letter to the outsider, to books, reading, science fiction and fantasy. All I can say is read it.