Harvey-Fitzhenry, Alyxandra. Waking. Orca Book Publishers, 2006.

I found this to be a quick and enjoyable read. Beauty is a teenager enrolled at Briar High, and her mother has recently committed suicide by cutting her wrists. As a result, her father is extremely overprotective and won’t allow any sharp objects at all in the house; Beauty isn’t even allowed to wear a pin given to her by a friend or cut her own food. The only comfort she finds is in tending her mother’s rose garden, and her artwork, but even that is difficult for her now. Through a new friendship with the new girl in town, Luna, Beauty is able to let out some of her emotions about the tragedy and learn to express herself more, getting back to her artwork and even creating a painting that represents her mother’s death. This is her awakening, finding out who she is and healing. She is haunted by nightmares of “The Shadow Lady,” who is always trying to get her, but at the end we find out that the Shadow Lady is really just a manifestation of all her fears. In the dream, she says to her, “You will never find true love” and her mother gives her a mirror. Beauty kisses herself in the mirror, showing that she has learned to love herself. I really liked that; she didn’t need the love of a man to overcome this struggle. There is a crush, Poe, who plays a significant part of the story and is definitely the prince character, but the real healing and awakening comes from within, and from the wonderful female friendship she has with Luna. I think young adults would like this book; although some might find it a little “corny” (the Sleeping Beauty connection would have been apparent without actually naming the main character “Beauty,” for example). But I think there are some very important themes here, mainly the importance of allowing the healing process to occur in healthy ways when dealing with grief. And as I already mentioned, the boy isn’t the solution to the problem but is more of a bonus to the story; the most important love is the one Beauty learns to have for herself.

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