The Opposite House

by Helen Oyeyemi

The strength of this novel is the author's brilliant use of language. Maja, a Cuban girl growing up in London, is articulate, clever, funny and possibly mentally ill. This is the story of her exploits with her family and best friend, Amy Eleni. Much of the book is taken up with Cuban myth and religion which is challenging, although both fascinating and enlightening. On the whole, an enjoyable read.


Like every girl, I only need to look up and a little to the right of me to see the hysteria that belongs to me, the one that hangs on a hook like an empty jacket and flutters with disappointment that I cannot wear her all the time. I call her my hysteric, and this personal hysteric of mine is designer made (though I'm not sure who made her), flattering and comfortable, attractive even, if you're around people who like that sort of thing. She is not anyone, my hysteric; she is blank, electricity dancing around a filament, singing to kill. It's not that there are two Majas; there is only one, but she can disappear into her own tension and may one day never come back.


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