The Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything – E. Lockhart



I started this book because E.Lockhart is coming to my school and I wanted to read more than We Were Liars in preparation of her visit…. (here’s another plug for We Were Liars, which is one of the best books I’ve read in years).

Fly on the Wall is exactly what it sounds like – if someone is the fly on the wall observing, but not living.  As an art student at a prestigious art school in NYC where Gretchen is ordinary.  Or.Din.Ar.Y. —- she believes she is dull and boring.  Her skill is drawing comic book illustrations, but it is a skill unimpressive to her fellow artists.  She’s awkward, boy crazy, and self-conscious much like most teenagers.  It’s great writing that reminded me of all those elements of teenage years, very honest and realistic.

Then insecurities turn to anger when her parents tell her they are divorcing.

The story constantly flows – no chapters to break up thoughts or scenes.  Part one is continuous.  It bounces between her interactions and conversations to her inner thoughts.  She thinks out loud, questions herself, makes fun of herself, and is very pre-teen so most teens would “get” her.  It also makes for a fast read.

Then Part 2 starts and BAM! – It’s Metamorphoses.  “Stupid Hell, where are these legs coming from?”  She wished to be a fly on the wall in the boys locker room and wakes up as a fly.  HA! Didn’t see it coming.

As she stretches her wings and comes to term to life as a fly, she flies and feels like one of the superheroes she draws.   It’s the highest her self esteem has been. Her time as a fly is actually pretty funny with thoughts ranging from fly thoughts to human thoughts and then Gretchen realizing it’s pointless to have human thoughts in the body of a fly.

Now the warning here is she talks a lot about a naked boy in the locker room – she doesn’t use the word penis but certainly goes on about the nudity (and the magnetism of it) so probably best for older teens.  The fly part is sort of funny, but with all the talk of “gherkins” – this is certainly a book for older teens.  Her time as a fly in the locker room also brings up the topics of bullying, homophobia, and sex.

In Part 3, Gretchen is back to her human self only with a new sense of confidence after learning more about boys, that they have insecurities as well, and after missing her old life she appreciates her friends and her parents – and the joy of stretching.  It wraps up well showing that all teens are insecure, but that Part 2 will keep me from recommending it (or purchasing it for my school library).  Too much talk of gherkins.


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