The Girl with Glass Feet
By Ali Shaw
Henry Holt & Company
Ida Maclaird went to St. Hauda’s Land looking for answers to a strange affliction — her feet are turning to glass. While exploring the island, she meets Midas Crook. He’s introverted, skittish, and mostly avoids people preferring to see the world through the lens of his camera. For Midas, it’s easier to photograph life than experience it.
Ida, outgoing and friendly to Midas’s lonely and shy state, stops by the flower shop where he works and asks him to coffee. She confesses that she is looking for a man named Henry Fuwa. Midas knows him but because of his own emotional and personal history with Henry, tells her nothing. Midas wants to help, but can’t bring himself to say the words or to actually do anything. It is Ida who pushes the relationship forward and once again invites Midas to spend time with her. When Ida invites Midas to the cottage she is staying at, he gets a look at her feet which entrance him enough to photograph them while Ida sleeps. Ida is hurt by his actions but somehow still wants him around for which Midas is grateful, although he’s unable to express it.
Midas becomes so captivated with Ida and her feet that he goes to see Henry Fuwa without telling her. Henry tells him what he doesn’t want to hear — there is no cure and the glass will eventually overtake her whole body. Midas doesn’t tell Ida about this visit or what he has learned but is determined to help her. Somehow Ida finds herself falling in love with Midas but she can’t help but wonder if it’s the affliction or Midas that is actually causing the feelings she’s having. While she is hoping for a cure, she can see the glass spreading and is all too aware of the fact that she hasn’t much time left.
Over the course of Ida looking for a cure, you’re introduced to a strange cast of island residents all disturbed and suffering some ailment of their own. It’s a sad story with death hanging over every page. It’s almost as if every one of the island residents is grieving in their own way, sadly looking for answers and emotions long passed or forgotten. They all seem to crave some light and happiness on a damp, foggy island. While the story is full of failures, romantic and otherwise, Ida and Midas do find each other and while the romance is far from romantic, it forces both Ida and Midas to focus on the present and enjoy what’s in front of them.
This a debut novel by Shaw and it’s a good show. While I thought some parts were slightly confusing and a few extra words of explanation could have helped in places, it’s a story I couldn’t put down in the end. While I don’t think each story needs a happy ending, I was slightly surprised and pleased by how this one turned out.
In addition to this blog, I also do reviews for The Book Reporter website. The above is a summary of my review, which can be read in full here. The book was provided to me by the publisher for The Book Reporter review.