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Through Her Eyes, by Jennifer Archer

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): Archer, Jennifer (2011). Through Her Eyes. Harper Teen: New York

Category: Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense

Subcategories: Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Horror

Descriptive Summary: It is never easy being the new kid and 16-year old Tansy Piper has felt like that a lot since her book-writing mother always moves them to the locations of her writing projects. When Tansy and her mother move to the small town Cedar Canyon in Texas, Tansy just wants to belong and have real friends, so when she find the belongings of a boy, Henry (who is long-dead) in her old house, she is intrigued by how she feels like she knows him and he her. She begins to be pulled into his ghost-like world through the photographs she takes of her surroundings and Tansy begins to lose sight of the boundary between her life and his.  Tansy must solve the mystery that surrounds the strange Henry and his death, and the house she lives in if she is going to be able to hold onto herself and her life. Ultimately it’s a story about growing up, and deciding who and what you’ll be. Most of all, it’s about realizing that life can still be a great adventure even if it wasn’t the one you thought you wanted.

Book Talking Hooks: Henry’s ghost and his haunting of the house where he lived (and particularly of Tansy) are central to the novel. We, as an audience, are fascinated by the supernatural and we like being entertained by it. The Paranormal Activity movie series for example, are one of many publications about just that, for example; a hostile environment with a mystery figure, and a sinister or ominous story to tell.

The first time you encounter something supernatural early on in the novel secures the reader’s interest (Archer, 2011, p. 1). What makes those supernatural glimpses all the more intriguing is that you’re not entirely sure what the motives of that awareness are; it could be innocent, or deeply malevolent. This mystery heightens an-already tense atmosphere! The intermittent returns to Tansy’s “real-life,” and the supernatural breaks up the tone, thus offering a variety in pace for the reader (Archer, 2011, p. 95, 131, 162, & 201).

The abrupt jumps between Tansy’s thoughts, feelings (elated one second, and crushed the next) are good examples of what it is like in a teen’s mind as they try to make friends and fit in in new places and schools. Tansy does this a lot as she meets people her age who are mean to her, like some girls at her school, while others are decent and friendly like a boy she meets (Archer, 2011, p 26-30, & 99). This makes the novel something a teen could relate to easily.

Evaluative Comments: 3/5. This books is suspenseful read with mystery and a great many questions that need to be answered before Tansy will be able to reclaim herself and her stake on life. While still being a fictional tale involving the supernatural, the novel is still grounded in reality as the narrator speaks through the eyes of a lonely and isolated teenage girl; many of us can relate to that feeling of isolation at some point in our lives, so the books does an excellent job of maintaining the balance between the fantastic and the realistic (Archer, 2011, p. 27, 97, & 149). It’s an easy book to relate to, with just enough flavor of the supernatural to make it something a reader can be detached from.

The setting of the house also creates an atmosphere of silent watchfulness and creepy mystery that people occasionally find appealing in some houses and places. It is a strength of this book that you can never quite shake the feeling of a pensive silence, especially when Tansy is at her house. The author does an excellent job of communicating atmosphere. The objects Tansy finds (a leather book, a crystal pendant and a small pocket watch) also appeals to people who enjoy looking for interesting finds in out of the way places (Archer, 2011, p. 17, & 141). It lends an exploratory feel of discovery to the setting that readers are bound to like!

Readers’ Advisory Notes: Through Her Eyes is a good choice for any young adult reader that likes intricately-plotted and plot-driven storylines with a mystery to unravel, with the fantastic or supernatural thrown in. All of Tansy’s insecurities and struggles with being the new kid in town and her personal grief create an angst-filled tone and an altogether human portrayal of a teenage girl. Young adults who like this sort of tale will also enjoy Dark Souls by Paula Morris, or The Host by Stephanie Meyers.

Reason for Inclusion: Through Her Eyes was recommended to me by a librarian at the Halifax Public Library, and it also received consistently positive reviews from readers on Amazon and Goodreads. Booklist, for example, also reviewed it positively saying it is a, “A tightly written time-travel fantasy. The quirky characters; romantic triangles; and ghosts and haunted houses make for a winning, mixed-genre offering that’s sure to attract a wide audience of teen readers” (Amazon, “Through Her Eyes,” 2011). Publishers Weekly also said, “An evocative and unusual ghost story. Archer’s engrossing story gracefully weaves together the contemporary and historical into an eerie mystery, while examining relationships, reality, and the power of the mind” (Amazon, “Through Her Eyes,” 2013).

Suggested Audience: I would recommend this book to anyone with a taste for the supernatural and books that are told through a first person narrative. I would also recommend this book to any young person having a hard time adjusting to a new living situation, especially if he or she has moved around a lot; Through Her Eyes is very empathetic in understanding the difficulties of that situation for a young person. Teens aged 14 and up should read this book.

References

Amazon. (2011). “Through Her Eyes.” Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Through-Her-Eyes-Jennifer-Archer/dp/B006QS1P1I

Goodreads (2011). “Through Her Eyes.” Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8428110-through-her-eyes

Harper Teen (2011). “Through Her Eyes: About the Book.” Retrieved from http://www.harperteen.com/books/Through-Her-Eyes-Jennifer-Archer

Rotten Tomatoes (2007). “Paranormal Activity.” Retrieved from http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/paranormal_activity/

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