Drama. Humor. Surprise. Fantasy. A totally great read.
Tami and Ariella are two cousins leading very different lives. Devastated by her father's death, Tami clings to nobody but herself. Ariella "Slick" Shick has popularity, money, and her amazing friends -- but her mother's air kisses leave her feeling empty.
When Tami and Ariella find their great-grandmother's matching mirrors on a silver- mooned night, their minds, their bodies and their lives are about to change forever. The question is, will they ever be able to get their old lives back?And - will they want to?
Written by popular author Yael Mermelstein, The Face in the Mirror is a breakthrough book that will absorb and engage teen readers as it takes them on a fantastic and unforgettable journey into the unknown.
Artscroll Mesorah Publishers
"....I'm amazed at how fluid your writing is"
Judye Groner, Co-founder, Kar-Ben Publishers
My daughter and I are both reading THE FACE IN THE MIRROR and it is an incredible read. There are so many lines that make me stop and read them again, because they're just so real. I think that so many kids/teens, and even adults will be able to relate to the identity challenges that these two girls face. The book is at once, compelling, exciting and suspenseful. There are times I feel like crying. It takes a lot for me to really enjoy a book- I generally pick them apart, sometimes unconsciously; focusing on what I think should have been done differently. The Face in the Mirror was not subject to my scrutiny; rather I'm savoring the words written on each page.
Naomi Hirsch: Author: Innocent Deceptions and Desperate Deceptions: Lion’s Gate Press, and Roadblock: Artscroll.
I was up until 2.30 am reading your book, Face in the Mirror. It is fantastic! I love the way in which you explore real teenage issues. Thank you.
Libby Jacobovitz; Editor and Proofreader.
The Face in the Mirror
Q&A with the Author
How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I love the idea of minds and bodies switching places. I always wonder how much of a person is what they think and how much of them is what they look like. This idea explores all of that in an “in your face” kind of way. I also wanted to explore this idea through two first cousins because in the Jewish orthodox world very often family are your very best friends whether you like it or not. I wondered what would happen if you didn’t really like your family very much. Then what? And what would happen when you became the very cousin you disliked? This idea percolated in my head for about two years before I actually wrote it.
How did you come up with a title?
Titles are interesting animals. This book was supposed to be called SWITCHED since its inception. I loved the punchiness of that title. For two years, SWITCHED sat in my head. Then I wrote SWITCHED. My publishers liked the title. One day I was reading publishers weekly when I came across a new book that was being released. It was part of a well-known trilogy. Guess what the book was called? Switched. When I told my publishers about this they said that my title needed to be “switched”. I was so sad. We thought of calling it “swapped” but felt it was too cheesy. We went through many options, finally settling on “The Face in the Mirror”. I like it, but not as much as Switched.
What problems did you run into while writing this book?
This book was written in alternating points of view between two cousins – Tami and Ariella. Tami’s character was very obvious to me. She was a dark, brooding sort with a lot of depth. She had an intensity that reminded me of myself. Perhaps that’s why it was easy to write her character. Ariella was a little more complicated for me to formulate. When I sent a rough draft of this book to a critique partner, she felt Ariella’s voice sounded way too similar to Tami’s voice. She was right. I had to sweat over who Ariella was and what her voice would sound like. Eventually, she materialized. It felt like a miracle.
What was the most satisfying thing about writing this book?
Breaking the mold on orthodox Jewish literature for teens. My characters are imperfect, with a range of emotions. The feedback that I receive from teens and from their parents about this book is extremely encouraging. People really identify with these characters. I just so happen to love this book. I hope you will too.
The Face in the Mirror : An Excerpt
I’m walking down the street in Flatbush and the cars are honking even though
the light is red because they’re all in a hurry to nowhere. The sidewalk is uneven,
mountainous where tree roots push and tug at the concrete and the trees are just
starting to bud pink and green blossoms. Pink is the only color I can’t stand. I like
the auburns and golds of fall and the dead, withered leaves that remind me of my
winter lips, cracked and thin.
I’m an autumn winter kind of girl.
“Hey You,” someone calls. I bite down on my lip and get that fresh blood
metallic taste and I’m wondering who’s calling me in a wanting to know and not
wanting to know sort of way.
“Tami?” I turn around and see it’s my cousin Ariella, president of the ‘I’m so
cheerful my face could split’ club, whose genetic material I share since we share the
same Safta though I’m positive I’ve been grafted.
Ariella is a spring summer kind of girl.
“Hey Tami- you want to come to my sleep-over?”
Of course I want to come over and hang out with the “I’m too cool to sit on a
chair’ girls, sprawled out on pink bedspreads and sitting on carpets so magical they
might take off. I’d probably sit in the corner and spend the whole night trying to
figure out how to position my legs so my feet wouldn’t fall asleep and by the time I’d
think of something clever to say everyone else would be out cold from giggle
“Nah. Thanks anyway.”
“Why don’t you ever come Tami? You’re like a social moth. Eventually I’m
going to stop inviting you because I'm insulted.”
“No you won’t,” I say, blowing three rings of cold air in front of me, stepping
back to admire my handiwork. “Your mother’s gonna make you invite me to
everything you do until your married. You’re stuck with me.”
“That’s not true. Don’t say stuck.”
“Stuck, stuck, stuck. You’re stuck with the class loser as your cousin.”
“Don’t say loser.”
“Loser, loser, loser.” I pull my brown knit cap down over my ears and zip up
my coat, walking briskly away from my cousin, loving the sound of ‘loser’ flying
about like a lone bird caught on an autumn wind. The sky is suddenly thick with
clouds like it has a bad case of smog and lightning zigs a bit and then zags like its not
sure what it wants to do. The fresh pink buds toss and churn in the wind. Someone
leans on their horn and I let it scream through my brain, chasing my thoughts into a
Good. It’s going to rain.
I feel like rain today.
My name is Tami Englebrenner and I live in a sloppy house that spills over the
corner like too much fizz, the yard a tangle of weeds, old car parts, deflated rubber
balls and cigarette butts that who knows who threw into our yard because nobody in
our family smokes. Mommy says we’re lucky to have any yard at all living in
Brooklyn but I’d prefer a slab of concrete to this.
Our yard abuts the Shicks house, my mother’s sister Penina , a.k.a Ariella’s
mother. The slick Shick’s yard has neatly cropped grass which never needs watering
or mowing. They say it’s because it’s synthetic but I know the truth – it’s magical,
just like everything else about them. Like the tulips that froth up in spring, amethyst
and canary and blood red all along the outskirts of their yard and the ladybugs that
cling to the greenest blades of fake grass ever to grace our neighborhood. There
should be a line of demarcation between our yards but the Shicks aren’t rude enough
to put one up. But everyone knows. Even the brown beetles keep to our side of the
yard even when the tulips try to entice them. “No way,” the brown beetles say.
“We’re staying on our side of town.”
It wasn’t always that way. Daddy used to mow the lawn.
I’m almost at the front door as the rain literally falls out of a cloud like
someone was waiting with a bucket to pour over my head. The funny thing is, I like
getting wet, so I stand there for a minute or maybe three, letting the water soak
through my hat. I imagine it seeping into my brain, washing out all the neurons, all
the little axons and dendrites. A brain swimming pool.
“I’m coming.” I tell my mother. So much for the brain bath. I step inside,
deftly jumping over the jumble of boots in the front hall that all my little brothers left
for me to put away.
“I heard the weather report after you left for school this morning,” my mother
says as she plants a kiss on my wet hat. “I felt terrible not giving you boots-“
“Ma, I told you the girls in school don’t wear galoshes. I’d still have worn my
regular shoes. So don’t worry about it.”
She looks wounded and I know she can’t afford the boots. I put my wet hands
on her cheeks. “It’s fine,” I say. “Nobody became popular from the right pair of
boots anyway. I honestly don’t care.”
“There’s dinner on the table,” my mother says as she trips over a pair of
yellow boots with a Donald Duck insignia. I catch her and hold her steady. “Nothing
special,” she says. “Macaroni and cheese.” She tries to hide her smile. She knows
there is nothing in the world I’d rather devour than macaroni drowning in a yellow
ocean of cheese.
“Tami!” my brothers squeal in unison. They’re sitting at the kitchen table,
one-two- three-four- five of them like Russian stacking dolls. I’m the oldest and they
expect me to feed them and pick up after them. They’re not too bad otherwise.
“Let your sister eat in peace,” my mother says as I slide into my seat,
knapsack still on my back.
“Oohh you’re still wearing that dumb hat,” Ruvi says.
“Oh look at the calendar,” I tell him. “Two more months till your bar mitzvah.
Then you’re in charge of mowing the lawn.”
Even my mother laughs. I don’t know how she can laugh about a lawn that
makes our house look haunted. I know people whose houses look like homes. I’d
have to call our house a temporary dwelling, maybe similar to the way the Jews lived
in the midbar or some other Biblical scenario. Nothing seems to last very long.
Every time my mother brings home a new anything – toaster, box of crayons, wall
hanging, whatever, my brothers break it. Nothing is sacred in this house. Except the
box. The box is a dull pink thing and we all know where Mommy keeps it though we
wouldn't dare touch it. The box is more than sacred. It’s like the holy of holies. You
can’t even approach it without getting the quakes all over your body. And nobody
knows what’s in it. Except for Mommy. And Daddy, because they never kept secrets
from each other. But Daddy’s gone – just a slab of stone and a rectangular patch of
grass in the cemetery in Huntington reminding us that he once was.
The family joke goes – at least somebody mows his lawn.
I can’t imagine why anybody finds that funny at all.