Flashback Friday: The Icarus Girl

ffbutton2Flashback Friday is a weekly tradition started here at Bookshelf Fantasies, focusing on showing some love for the older books in our lives and on our shelves. If you’d like to join in, just pick a book published at least five years ago, post your Flashback Friday pick on your blog, and let us all know about that special book from your reading past and why it matters to you. Don’t forget to link up!

My Flashback Friday pick this week:

The Icarus Girl

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
(published 2005)

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Jessamy “Jess” Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn’t actually know who her friend is at all. Drawing on Nigerian mythology, Helen Oyeyemi presents a striking variation on the classic literary theme of doubles — both real and spiritual — in this lyrical and bold debut.

I was reminded of this book, which I read several years ago, after reading the first batch of reviews for Helen Oyeyemi’s newest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird. It’s hard to believe that this talented writer, author of five novels to date, is only 29 years old!

The Icarus Girl, Oyeyemi’s debut, was published when the author was just 20. This is the only book of hers that I’ve read, so I don’t know how or if her style has changed since her first novel. In any case, while the entire plot didn’t necessarily hold together for me, what I remember about The Icarus Girl is the lovely writing, the sense of magic and mystery that pervades the novel, the very scary and eerie supernatural moments, and the use of Nigerian mythology to deepen and enrich the overall mood.

Have you read anything by Helen Oyeyemi? Do you plan to read Boy, Snow, Bird?

What flashback book is on your mind this week?

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: To join in the Flashback Friday fun:

  • Grab the Flashback Friday button
  • Post your own Flashback Friday entry on your blog (and mention Bookshelf Fantasies as the host of the meme, if you please!)
  • Leave your link in the comments below
  • Check out other FF posts… and discover some terrific hidden gems to add to your TBR piles!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: The Icarus Girl

  1. 5 novels and she’s only 29? I need to get a move on my writing project, lol…But in all seriousness, that’s awesome. Been hearing a lot of buzz about her latest book, perhaps I should check her books out. I think I remember coming across The Icarus Girl before but I can’t be sure. Thanks for sharing this title, happy Friday! 🙂

    My Friday Book Memes

  2. I’m pretty excited to read Boy, Snow, Bird. I have to add “The Icarus Girl” to my TBR list though. It sounds fascinating. Thank you for the recommendation. I also want to read “White Is for Witching”, which I only discovered this morning. I didn’t know she was under 30!

    • I didn’t know how young she was when I read The Icarus Girl — and I think knowing that might have had an impact on my response to the book. Very impressive.

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