I’m continuing to participate in and enjoy the Shelf Discovery Project at Girl Detective. I skipped Chapter 5 (You Heard It Here First: Very Afterschool Specials) because none of the books appealed to me. Last week for Chapter 6 (Girls Gone Wild: Runaways, Left Behinds, and Ladies Living off the Fat of the Land) I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I had a vague memory of reading it as a kid but didn’t remember details or being particularly fond of it. On this reading I thought it was ok but a little too formulaic and with too much cutesy romance for my taste. I found the other books by Speare that we’ve read much better (The Bronze Bow and The Sign of the Beaver).
For this week (Chapter 7- She Comes By It Supernaturally: Girls Who are Gifted and Talented), I re-read a book that was a favorite of mine as a child, The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts. The girl of the title is Kit who is a bit unusual. Not only does she have silver eyes, but she can move things with her mind and she can talk to animals. She’s tired of people finding her freaky and being scared of her abilities so when she discovers there might be other kids out there with similar powers she decides to try and find them.
I’m not sure exactly why I liked supernatural books as a pre-teen and teen but I did like them. I admit to also being a fan of Lois Duncan and reading most of her books as well as going through a Stephen King phase. I’m not sure I buy Skurnick’s take on supernatural girls in Shelf Discovery: that the powers are a metaphor for puberty. There is an interesting guest post at Girl Detective that somewhat convincingly argues for the menstruation/supernatural connection being part of traditional mythology. I say somewhat convincing because reading it felt like reading something from my sophomore Women in Literature class where my Chemistry major brain would think “Huh. Maybe. But I just thought it was book about cool stuff happening.” Kind of explains why I wasn’t an English major even though I love books.
I’m still not sure about the appeal of the supernatural but I think Skurnick gets it right about the appeal of this particular book:
It’s unsurprising that The Girl with the Silver Eyes is a stealth favorite of readers everywhere, since it is the implicit cri de coeur of those yelled at in English classes for reading one book under the desk because they finished the assigned reading two months ago. Forget talking to cats or moving rocks across the sidewalk to smack irritating neighbors- in TGWTSE, Katie’s reading, full stop, is a deeply suspicious activity.
Katie is just as freakish and outcast for her nerdiness and bookishness as she is for her special powers. And in the end finding other kids with powers is as much about a girl who has been an outcast finding friends as anything else. I wasn’t anything like an outcast but the years when I liked this book (middle school) were ones where I felt awkward and more of an outsider. I think I liked that Katie finds her tribe at the end.
I think everyone longs to find their tribe, to find people who are like them, who really get them. I think that’s one of the appeals of book blogs and reading challenges/projects like this one. As I’ve read along at Girl Detective this summer it’s been so much fun to hear from women who were once girls who liked the exact same books that I did as a girl. Of course on one level I knew that other girls were readers too, but on another it’s just so cool to hear someone wax rhapsodic about a book that they loved that I loved too.