I discovered a story about self-esteem, and bullying, and cruelty. About identity, and family, and self-perception. About the crucial role books can play in the lives of young people. And I was glad to make these discoveries, even though it did hurt quite a bit.
Hélène is a young girl living in Montreal with her mother and 2 younger brothers. Hélène has no friends. She is harassed and harangued by many other girls at school, and frankly it makes her feel like shit. Hélène tries to feel less bad about herself by reading. She reads JANE EYRE and tells the story to the reader in colorful pages with flowing script and clever narration. Hélène obviously feels that of the two of them, Jane is the better person. Hélène is quite wrong about this.
Hélène must put up with all sorts of cruelty from her peers. This part of the story is told in shades of gray, and occasionally beige. Jane Eyre's part of the story is told in somber, yet intriguing, shades of ocher, and brown, black and orange, and sometimes robin's-egg blue. The dark tones of Hélène's story reflect her emotions quite clearly. She is a very depressed little girl.
By the end of the story Hélène manages to make a friend. This helps her realize that her self-perceptions are in fact quite ridiculous, and that she shouldn't let those cruel classmates get her down. The illustrations start gaining color: first orange, then pink, then green, and blue. The watercolor illustrations are absolutely breathtaking, particularly the final two-page spread with the fox.
JANE, THE FOX, AND ME is a heart-breaking tale of a sad, tired girl with no friends, who finds solace in Emily Bronte's classic, and in a simple friendship.