by Nancy Springer
Cover Artist: Tristan Elwell
Review by Gayle Surrette
Walker Books for Young Readers Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802796493
Date: 02 October 2007 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dusie was named for her Aunt, her mother's sister. That's no big deal until you turn thirteen and wake up with a head of snakes instead of hair. That's not quite the time you want your mother to confess she's a gorgon and well those sculptures she does, well, there's a reason they look so lifelike. It's no use to explain that the snakes are all non-poisonous because it doesn't change the fact that you've got snakes for hair -- and you can't go back to school because you "statued" the cute guy you have a crush on and it's all over the news. The only good news is no one saw you do it. Guilt. Weirdness. Anger. How are you supposed to act with a head full of snakes that talk to you?
Dusie is a typical teenager. She has most of the normal problems. She doesn't know anything about her dad -- her mother won't talk about him at all. Her mom's a famous artist working almost exclusively in stone. Dusie has some best friends and the normal school problems. She's got a crush on a good looking boy at school who she doubts even knows she exists. But then all that becomes moot when she wakes up with snakes instead of hair and learns why her mother ALWAYS wears turbans.
This is one of those stories that really make you go, hmmmm. Springer always does have a way of making you think outside the box. How could a Medusa have a normal life? They're immortal so wouldn't they still be around? Could they get married and have children? And what would those children be like? With that as a basis we get: Dusie.
What would you do in her circumstances? I don't know about you, but I doubt I could handle it any better. Dusie is a smart, intelligent young lady of her times. She stands up for herself and thinks for herself. She doesn't wait to be saved and wonders if she even needs saving. She's a wonderful viewpoint character -- one that allows the reader to really identify with her and feel for her as her life changes overnight.
What ifs? Life is full of those choice points and how we move on determines in significant ways the person we'll become from that time forward. Springer gives us a chance to think about what ifs as we read about Dusie and her challenges. It's rare to have a wonderful story with so much depth and feeling as well.