The Girl with the Glass Feet – by Ali Shaw

On the surface, this is the unusual story of a girl who finds herself living with a disease that is slowly turning her body to glass. But it ends up being much more. As Ida searches for a cure for her condition, the strangers she meets become a part of her story. It’s a story of broken people trying to live and love despite the scars of their pasts — and the wounds which may be in their futures.

glass feetThis book is beautifully written, in prose that shifts back and forth between fairy-tale enchantment and modern starkness. It contains some of the most striking descriptions of photography and the effects of light that I have ever read. The characters are fresh and original, and the narrative weaves their pasts into the present to form a complex and beautiful pattern. While this book contains fantastical elements, it isn’t fantasy. It uses motifs of magic to underscore the harsh realities of our world. It’s a book where vacuum cleaners and enchantment stand side by side, where magical creatures haunt the forest while cars rush past on the road nearby.

I initially picked this book up because I was told that it was similar to Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child (which I loved). I can see the similarities: the elements of magical realism, the mystery and mystique of the tales, the bittersweet taste of the endings. Yet I found The Snow Child satisfying in a way that was lacking in this book. It’s hard for me to put my finger on the difference.

But I think it has something to do with hope.

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