HarperTempest

June 2002

$6.99 US

160p pb

ISBN: 978-0060004811

fp April 2000

Split Image: a story in poems

Mel Glenn

from the book...

Everyone has an image of Laura Li, the most popular girl in school: stone hearted, warm hearted, conceited deceiver, humble achiever, a virgin, the hottest girl in the world. 

Award winning poet Mel Glenn weaves a brilliant web of authentic voices in this riveting story, told in poetry, about what happens when one teenage girl is denied the freedom to determine her own identity.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A


In Mel Glenn’s story of Split Image, a teenage girl from China called Laura Li, and her family, move to the United States. With her father always away on business and her mother forbidding her freedom from the task of looking after her disabled brother, Jimmy, she gets a job in the school library to feel freer. Many people have different images of Laura Li; of a high graduate who is funny and sincere to a selfish and self-absorbed girl. But Laura Li is the most beautiful and popular girl in school, who is often quiet and is not on terms with her mother. This story is written in poems, with every page giving detailed accounts of Laura from people who know her. This verse novel imprints an image of Laura’s life and what she resorts to in order to truly become free.

This book was quite good, with all kinds of entries from different people, all of who know, despise or has fallen for Laura. It was a bit of a shock at the end, where other methods of escape could have been used in Laura’s case. Aimed for teenage or older readers, this book earns 8 out of 10.

Matthew, age 17, Canberra, Australia

Split Image is a really powerful book. It is a story about Laura Li, a seventeen-year-old Chinese girl. Laura Li, is like any other teenager but she just isn’t able to live like one, her life is controlled by her mother. Laura Li is a sweet, caring, warmhearted girl who listens to her mother and looks after her disadvantaged brother, but at night another Laura Li sneaks out to nightclubs to live a different life and forget about her problems at home.

“Nobody thinks I ever do anything wrong, part of the image, part of the stereotype. Let them go on believing I’m perfect. People see who or what they want anyway.” (pg. 106-107). These were the exact words of Laura Li. She knew what people thought of her. She also knew that she had a ‘split image’, one that was sweet and innocent (what most people thought) and the other that was totally opposite. I think that none of these images were Laura’s but I felt that inside she was just a confused girl trying to get her freedom to find herself.

Also Laura Li had a lot of pressure in her life from her parents. They had restricted her from doing practically everything. Laura Li often felt like she had lost her identity because she wasn’t herself anymore she was everything her mother wanted her to be. I felt that Laura had no freedom in her life, she was depressed and felt spaced out and she wanted to talk to someone but she had no one maybe that’s why she committed suicide.

The ending was a big shock to me. It left everyone in the book depressed; it also made them think what was the reason of Laura Li’s death who was perfect in everyway. This book was emotionally powerful, well written and was truly amazing.

Japna, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Split Image is a story written in poems by Mel Glenn. A young girl named Laura Li is pressured by her family in many ways. She was raised in China by her mother and father. When she was a little girl they moved from China to America; there her father was always busy travelling for work and never had time to spend with his daughter at home. Laura always wanted to go with her father but her mother would urge her to stay to look after her brother Jimmy Li. Jimmy Li has a mental illness and is disabled; ever since she can remember she has had to look after him, feed him, wash him and clean for him. Her mother doesn't make her life any easier; by putting her down and making her do all the house work.

The story is called Split Image because people see Laura Li in a different way than she sees herself, making her seem like she has two very different personalities. Laura Li is a very trapped and confused girl. She would rather nothing then to just lead her own life and live her own way. I enjoyed the story a lot. I would recommend this book for any who liked What my mother doesn't know by Sonya Sones. 

Leila, Year 10, Canberra, Australia


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