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Iris, Messenger

by Sarah Deming

Published by Harcourt, 2007
209 pages
ISBN: 0152058230

Ages 10-13

“Didn’t you ever wonder, Iris, what happens to gods when people stop worshipping them? Where do they go? What do they do?” The mysterious message in the margins of the Bullfinch’s Mythology that Iris Greenwold receives as an anonymous 12th birthday gift sets the action in motion in Sarah Deming’s witty debut novel. Iris soon discovers that the gods and goddesses are right in her own hometown. Poseidon is the depressed, lovelorn owner of a seafood shack. Apollo is a jazz musician at a club where Dionysus tends bar. Aphrodite owns a spa. Athena and Artemis run a detective agency. Although Iris’s mother, a health-food loving soybean scientist, has been fired from her job at a tofu factory, the encounters convince Iris that their lives are about to change in wonderful ways. And they do, but the revelation Iris imagined would come with the force of a lightning bolt proves anticlimactic. The real change is in Iris herself, who begins to see that it’s not who she is, but what she does with her talents and knowledge that matters most. Deming deftly balances outrageous humor with insightful revelations about the very human nature of gods and people alike. The stories from Greek myth woven into the narrative are sometimes a bit long in the retelling, but Deming’s deadpan delivery (The moto of Erebus Middle School was ‘We ♥ Children.’ This gave Iris Greenwold a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach, which she later learned was called ‘irony.’ ”) and hilarious manifestations of the gods and goddesses in modern-day vocations, are a winning combination. (MS) ©2007 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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