Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Mirror Girls
Author: Kelly McWilliams
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: Black Mixed MC, Black mixed white passing MC, Twin MCs
Recommended For…: young adult readers, historical fiction, Civil Rights Movement era, fantasy, magic mirrors, ghosts
Publication Date: February 8, 2022
Genre: YA Historical Fiction Fantasy
Age Relevance: 14+ (parental death, death, grief, racism, murder, lynching, language, passing, assault, child abuse, starvation, gore, violence)
Explanation of Above: There is death mentioned and parental death and murder mentioned and detailed in the book. The book also goes into themes of grief. The book heavily revolves around racism, including lynchings and assault on a Black minor in which an adult woman kissed him and then got him killed when she realized he wasn’t white. Passing and colorism are also discussed and shown, especially in the context of how two twins are treated differently because of their differing skin color. Child abuse is shown in the book, along with starvation. There is some gore, blood and burning with a curling iron, and violence including gun violence and physical assaults. There is also some slight cursing every now and then.
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: As infants, twin sisters Charlie Yates and Magnolia Heathwood were secretly separated after the brutal lynching of their parents, who died for loving across the color line. Now, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Charlie is a young Black organizer in Harlem, while white-passing Magnolia is the heiress to a cotton plantation in rural Georgia.
Magnolia knows nothing of her racial heritage, but secrets are hard to keep in a town haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past. When Magnolia finally learns the truth, her reflection mysteriously disappears from mirrors—the sign of a terrible curse. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Charlie’s beloved grandmother falls ill. Her final wish is to be buried back home in Georgia—and, unbeknownst to Charlie, to see her long-lost granddaughter, Magnolia Heathwood, one last time. So Charlie travels into the Deep South, confronting the land of her worst nightmares—and Jim Crow segregation.
The sisters reunite as teenagers in the deeply haunted town of Eureka, Georgia, where ghosts linger centuries after their time and dangers lurk behind every mirror. They couldn’t be more different, but they will need each other to put the hauntings of the past to rest, to break the mirrors’ deadly curse—and to discover the meaning of sisterhood in a racially divided land.
Review: This will go down as a Paige Forever Fave! I thought it was an absolutely fantastic read and I loved it so much! The story was touching and I loved that it not only explored themes of racism in the South at the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, but also explored passing and colorism, which I feel a lot of people will be able to identify with. The book had a duel POV narrative, which I thought really worked for the book, and it was a compelling book where, while involving fantasy elements, the magic took a backseat to the very real issues that the girls were dealing with. I thought the characters were very well developed and I loved how the girls were very different in personality, but also had many similarities that ultimately worked for them in the end. The MCs grew because of the story, but most of their growth occurred with each other, which is what I also thought was unique with this book. The world building was also well done and I think this is one of those books that should be recommended reading in schools.
The only issue I had with the book is that sometimes the events of the book were fast paced and I wanted it to slow down. I also desperately want more of Charlie and Magnolia and I’d love to read another story with them in it, but this is kind of the curse of Kelly McWilliam’s writing: it’s so addictive it makes you crave more after the final page.
Verdict: Highly recommend!