Josephine's Reviews > Stranger with My Face

Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan
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's review
Aug 31, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: library-book
Read in August, 2011

I read about Stranger with My Face in Shelf Discovery, and took a chance on it, as I liked the one other book of Duncan's I've read, A Gift of Magic . Unfortunately, I was probably too old for Stranger with My Face when it came out; I was fifteen or so. I'm definitely too old for it now.

In Stranger with my face, Our Angst Ridden Teen Protagonist, Laurie, is recalling events from a year previously, more or less: she's grown up on a small island off the New England coast, and befriends Helen, a convenient incomer from New Mexico, thus cheesing off her island friends, who being (forgive me) an insular group, don't like mainlanders. She further torques off her island acquaintances by "attending" a party, which, being flattened by a vicious 24 hour bug, she was most definitely NOT able to attend...and her mother can attest to that fact. Further spectral visitations, and a bit of investigation and confrontation with her parents lead Our Protagonist to learn that she is not only adopted, but half-Navajo Indian and has a twin sister of whom she knows nothing. As it happens, the twin sister, raised by their Indian Princess Mother, has followed the Indian Way and learned how to do astral projection. Evil Twin (Lia) has located Innocent Protagonist! (sinister organ music and deafening clap of thunder!) Lia then proceeds to entangle Laurie into one of those friendships that makes you want to slap the person thus entangled and drag zir willy-nilly to a safe house ASAP, and Laurie goes along with it, despite having only just found out that Lia exists period. Laurie learns to do astral projection almost as well as Lia and goes swooping off to the Southwest, where she learns the Horrid Dire Truth About Lia--she's an egotistical self-centered psychotic maniac determined to snatch a Perfect Home Life for herself--and rushes back to her own body...but Lia beats her to it by a hair, and slips into Laurie's body. I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that Laurie does get her own body back in the end. The framing story is that Laurie, about to go off to college, is remembering her own senior year in high school. Kinda gives the internal story's ending away, I think. Rather like the framing story in Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber: the story begins with Clare, in the 20th century, visiting Inverness with an adult child. Clearly she made it back to the present.

Did I like Stranger With My Face? yes, but I don't think Duncan wants to find out I laughed uproariously, and not for the reasons she may have meant to be funny, any more than she wants to know my husband rolled his eyes and mumbled something about cramming teen angst tropes into books with a shoehorn. Could I, with a straight face, recommend it to someone in the appropriate age group? Yes. I've had fifteen years of practice doing just that.

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