Book Review: In a Mirror, by Mary Stolz

I saw In a Mirror recommended on Gretchen Rubin’s list of May book club choices, under the heading, “An outstanding children’s book.” As far as I can tell, the book was written in 1953. It is somewhat hard to find. My library system didn’t have it, but I was able to get it through interlibrary loan.

It’s strange to me that this young-adult novel was written before either of my parents were born. I don’t really have a detailed frame of reference for the era in which In a Mirror is set. As I was reading, I was sort of picturing clothing and settings out of The Dick Van Dyke Show, but I just looked it up and discovered that The Dick Van Dyke Show ran in the 1960’s, not the 50’s. The only other thing I can think to compare it to is the movie, Mona Lisa Smile, which, like this book, is set at a women’s college in the 50’s.

In a Mirror is the introspective, first-person, journal-like narrative of Bessie Muller, an overweight, opinionated, aspiring writer. She finds her identity in her intelligence and writing ability, but due to her appearance, she always feels stuck on the outside-looking-in regarding the “real life” interests, such as dating and fashion, of most girls her age.

The book contains some pretty turns of phrase and is more artfully written than most young adult books, but it’s not spectacular. I wanted to be “wowed” by the conclusion, but the book kind of quietly fizzled out. I enjoyed In a Mirror while it lasted, but I probably won’t ever re-read it.

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One response to “Book Review: In a Mirror, by Mary Stolz

  1. I discovered this book through Gretchen Rubin’s list too! I have been homeschooling for over 20 years. I was born in 1959. If you want to see something from the era this was written, check out Leave It To Beaver. I had bulimia as a teen and young adult and also loved writing and was very academic so this rang some bells for me.

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