The Girl with the Silver Eyes
August 1, 2019 6:35 PM - by Willo Davis Roberts - Subscribe

Katie Welker is used to being alone. She would rather read a book than deal with other people. Other people don’t have silver eyes. Other people can’t make things happen just by thinking about them!

(This is the fourth book in the Nostalgic YA Book Club! Join us and suggest more YA books)
posted by ChuraChura (10 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is the only correct cover.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:38 PM on August 1, 2019 [14 favorites]

I love this book! (And yes, Chrysostom, that IS the only correct cover.)

I like how with just a few degree shift, this could totally be a villain origin story. By the end of the book, Katie has HAD IT with adults and their bullshit and being bullied by other kids and feeling alone. Then she teams up with her fellow superpowered kids and they fuck shit up. I'd read that sequel.
posted by Aquifer at 6:38 AM on August 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Just linked a 1980 review that has a very different take on the book than many actual 1980s children did. "Mildly diverting"? More like completely absorbing every time I picked it up. And wow, all the scolding about Katie's mild pranks on her jerkwad neighbors. Save us from people who think all reading material for children should be "improving".

I adore the villain origin story idea here. Also I know there's history I'm overlooking for the sake of wordplay here, but "The September Children and the October Revolution" might be a good tagline for our hypothetical fucking-things-up sequel. I've always wondered what life might have been like for Katie and friends at the new school. Is it the Xavier Academy? Do they fight crime? Does it all go horribly wrong for them? Is the school taken over by nefarious people? Does their friendship survive? I would read about twenty different mutually-exclusive sequels, TBH, and if anyone's got good fanfic links, please share!

One thing I always loved is that Roberts has Katie reading another of her books. Shameless self-promotion!

And every kid should be issued a Mrs. M in life. What an amazing world we'd have if we'd all had someone like her on our side.

And Jackson's family. I just adore that scene forever, the loving chaos where Jackson can just assume that sneaking Katie in to a couple of his sisters' slumber party will totally work out fine and it does. (Well, if only nobody'd turned on the TV.)

Back to that Kirkus review: "It's disappointing that both the kids and the author end up without a glimmer of serious thought on the gift's implications." I'm not sure I know anyone who read this as a kid who never gave any thought to the story's implications. It's why we kept going back to the book, and it's a lot like Harry Potter that way, where Rowling notably doesn't spend much time on any of the implications of, well, anything much about the entire wizarding world. It's why that series was such a rich mine for fanfic; there are so many hooks to explore that weren't covered in the source material.

What would a take on this story with modern social norms and modern tech look like? How does Katie find her people when she's not allowed to go anywhere outside on her own, or when instead of a paper address book (or was it a Rolodex?), her mom's old coworkers are contacts on her password-locked phone? When the kids don't have home phone lines they might be likely to pick up when Katie cold-calls potential friends? Are the September Children catfished by an adult who claims to be one of them? Have any of them started ordering poorly-regulated colored contact lenses on the internet to pass for normal, to the secret relief of their parents?

tl;dr: This story has spent a lot of time on my mind for the last thirty years. Katie forever!
posted by asperity at 9:05 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

The library doesn't have this one, which is unforgivable. I can't decide if I should spend the $8 to buy it. I really want to reread it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:31 PM on August 2, 2019

Interlibrary loan?
posted by Chrysostom at 6:57 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Two copies are on Open Library!

They’re being checked out now but if you don’t mind signing up and placing a hold you can read them through your browser when they get returned. It’s free
posted by sacchan at 7:49 PM on August 2, 2019

This was straight up my favorite book growing up, as another nerdgirl like Katie.

At one point I had a boyfriend who said they were family friends with Willo Davis Roberts and her husband, but sadly I never heard anything more about that. Grr, argh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, man, this book was huge in my childhood. The unused narrative space was endlessly frustrating/enticing to my young completionist mind. I spent so long wondering what would happen next after the end of the book.
posted by Scattercat at 5:57 PM on August 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved this book completely as a child. I have an older friend now who I think is the spitting image of Mrs. M. and she straight up would have believed Katie too.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:37 AM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

That's so funny, this is the cover I remember. How I loved that book.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:22 PM on August 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

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