Reading guide for The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

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The Icarus Girl

By Helen Oyeyemi

The Icarus Girl
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2005,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2006,
    352 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Deftly blending the motifs of African folklore with an original new voice, Nigerian born Helen Oyeyemi tells a haunting story of twins and ghosts, of a little girl growing up between cultures and colors, to capture the mysterious power of myth to transform reality.

Powerfully imaginative and compelling, The Icarus Girl is perfect for you next reading group choice. Here are some questions to enhance your discussions:

Discussion Questions

  1. Jessamy Harrison has a Nigerian mother and an English father. How important is Jess's mixed race? How important are these two very different cultures to her?

  2. What is the significance of the "long-armed woman" who appears in Jess's dreams? What does she mean when she says "We are the same"?

  3. Jess readily accepts TillyTilly's ability to alter Jess's reality. Is TillyTilly – a ghost, a demon, Jess's alter ego as Dr. McKenzie suggests, or something else?

  4. How successful is Helen Oyeyemi at capturing the voice, thoughts and fears of a troubled eight-year-old?

  5. Jess's grandfather tells her "Two hungry people should never make friends." What does he mean? How important is Jess's grandfather to her?

  6. The ibeji statue's "aid" of Jess in the Bush does not constitute a victory for Jess and Fern. What do you think happens at the end of the novel?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Anchor Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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