The Chancellor read a comics compilation this Cannonball read, and he recommended Fanny Britt’s Jane, the Fox, and Me. I was highly intrigued–I like Jane Eyre, and I LOVE foxes. So I was excited to see what this was all about. I was not prepared to work out my tear ducts.
Hélène is a bullied young teenager in Quebec. She used to be friends with the popular girls in school, but now they gawk and giggle when she walks by, and they write terrible things on the bathroom walls, such as “Hélène has BO” or “Hélène weighs 216.” The boys do nothing, and most follow the girls’ lead. Her single mother is tired and worn out, trying desperately to help make a pretty dress, even when it leads to her being up half the night. Hélène’s only escape is the novel Jane Eyre. She can only imagine the hardships Jane overcame to become a confident, independent young woman. And then, on a required school camping trip, Hélène meets a wild fox–and Geraldine.
Middle school is hell, and Fanny Britt depicts it with painful accuracy. Girls are cruel, and she spares no words illustrating the depths of their inhumanity towards the not-chosen. Isabelle Arsenault sketches the school parts in black and white. Hélène is droopy, sad, and cautious. The Jane parts are portrayed in brilliant color, by contrast. The fox ends up being the tipping point, as it collides the black-and-white despair of Hélène’s existence with the hopeful world Jane lives in.
To say that I “loved” this book is an understatement. I want to hold it to my heart and never let it go. I was never bullied as a kid, but my sister was, and I was teased a bit. I think everyone should read this book, because it is an important glimpse at the impact our cruel words can have on innocent people. Also, it provides a glimmer of hope when friendship enters our lives.