The Empty Mirror by James Lincoln Collier

This was a book that somehow ended up in my classroom library. The premise seemed interesting: a boy loses his mirror reflection when his image comes to life and the two images both want to live in the one living body. I started this one day in my car waiting for my boys to finish up their various practices for the evening because I was bored, recognized the author (winner of some book prize years back), and decided one of the kiddos might enjoy it when I finished. I got all the way to the last chapter, and didn’t finish it, until today when I spent some time trying to finish up on some old stuff to help boost my lagging Goodreads challenge numbers.

The Empty Mirror was not as good as that award-winner My Brother Sam is Dead I mentioned earlier. The mirror reflection turns out to have been stolen by a long dead kid who is the same age as the main character Nick. This mirror reflection keeps trying to wreck Nick’s reputation so he can steal his life. This whole idea breaks down though, when he tries to frame Nick for crimes that will get him arrested or killed. (Does the reflection boy Jared really think it’s better to be a living breathing kid who is about to go to jail or be executed? This makes no sense!) Turns out Jared, the dead reflection-stealing kid, has a grudge against Nick’s adoptive uncle as well, who didn’t “save” him during the major flu epidemic which led to his death…not really rational at all. And then, after 180 pages of building up this showdown between the two lookalike kids, it ends with a bare sentence of explanation. YUCK. If this is the kind of drivel that gets written for children, no wonder kids today don’t like to read!

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