Have you heard of Helen Oyeyemi? In 2004 or 2005, she was the talk of the literary world because she wrote a novel and sold it at the same time that she sat her A-levels, and that was amazing, because really young writers are amazing. I heard about this somewhere and became pretty obsessed with the idea that someone just a couple years older than I was had done what I wanted to do, so I got her book, The Icarus Girl, when it came out, and it was everything.
It wasn’t anything to anyone else I knew, which made me sad, because I couldn’t stop talking about. The boys at school (who I was always trying to impress or at least be seen as worthy in their eyes, even though by all high school social standards, they were not impress-worthy) who were in journalism with me made fun of me for this, especially when I wrote a book review for the school newspaper. Looking back, the way they treated me in that class and in high school in general was problematic on so many levels (once I brought The Norton Anthology of African American Literature to school because I needed it for something we were doing later that day in English, and one of these boys just ripped out a page out of nowhere, because he thought a poem called “Run Nigger Run” was hilarious. Who rips pages out of books?) and yet I didn’t have the vocabulary or the confidence to hit back or explain what they were doing or anything, and it was so frustrating.
Anyway. I loved The Icarus Girl and was always telling people to read it. Then I kept following Oyeyemi and was always buying her next books whenever they came out. Continue reading