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Dear America Wiki

"As soon as she was gone, I began to cry into the pillow so no one would hear me. The pillow became soaked with my tears. I wanted to rip the blindfold from my face and call a halt to this horrible game. But, of course, there was no blindfold, and this isn't a game."
—Bess Brennan[2]

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Diary of Bess Brennan is the twenty-eighth entry in Scholastic's Dear America. The book was written by Barry Denenberg, his fifth in the series. It was published in September 2002 and was followed by Survival in the Storm.

After a sledding accident, Bess Brennan is now blind and begins to attend Perkins School for the Blind.


"Dedicated to Cafer Barkus"

Book description[]

"Saturday, January 2, 1932
For the first time since the accident I began to cry.
I don't like to cry. Daddy disapproved of crying. But I couldn't hold it in any longer. I was crying because of all that had happened to me, but even more because I knew right then that Uncle Ted was right. I always liked doing things for myself, and now there was nothing I could do on my own. I had to go to blind school.
I had to find a way to live my life.


In December 1931, Bess Brennan accidentally swerves into a tree while out sledding. The accident causes her to lose her sight, despite several operations performed by doctors. Her twin sister, Elin wishes to cheer her up and offers to write her diary for her. Bess accepts the offer, not bothered that Elin will know her innermost thoughts. Elin writes her own entries after Bess's. However, the girls decide to keep her entries a secret since Bess wants her to be truthful in her writing.

Her uncle Ted decides she should go to a special school, Perkins School for the Blind. Her mother is against it, wanting to take care of Bess herself. He eventually convinces her that the school is what she needs. At Perkins, Bess meets Amanda Bright and Eva Anderson, her roommates who become her close friends. Amanda, who can see a little, quickly becomes a huge help to Bess by giving her helpful advice on how to live as a blind person. Every weekend Ted brings her home from school and Elin writes long entries on what Bess did that week.

Bess and the girls have to contend with Mrs. Burton, their mean housemother who is especially strict with Eva. Nevertheless, Bess likes the school and most of her classes, though she struggles with learning braille. Her favorite is English, which is taught by Miss Salinger. She later offers to write Bess's entries on Wednesdays. She accepts after her worries that Elin would be jealous are cleared. Meanwhile, the country has hit hard economic times. Ted is forced to lay off several workers from his business, even after taking a pay cut for himself.

For Easter, Bess's mother allows her to bring Amanda and Eva. Everything goes well and the family quickly falls in love with Eva. Later, Miss Salinger casts Bess for a supporting role in the school's play. It is called off after Naomi Walker, the lead actress, is taken away by her father. Eva, meanwhile, becomes excited about singing at the school's graduation. She becomes sick and is unable to recover fully in time to sing. Bess's family later decides to have Eva stay with them for the summer.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Mirror, Mirror on the Wall characters
  • Bess Brennan, the twin sister of Elin. After a sledding accident, Bess is blind despite several operations. She is sent to Perkins School for the Blind, where she learns to be independent.
  • Elin Brennan is Bess's outgoing, supportive twin sister. To cheer Bess up, she offers to write her diary for her. Elin also occasionally makes her own entries.


Main article: Barry Denenberg

Barry Denenberg is an award-winning historical fiction and nonfiction author. He is well known for writing biographies, including Ali: An American Champion and An American Hero: The True Story of Charles Lindbergh. Denenberg authored five books in the Dear America series, including When Will This Cruel War Be Over?, So Far from Home, One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping, and Early Sunday Morning. He also wrote two My Name Is America books, and one in The Royal Diaries series.


"The author would like to thank Kristen Eberle, Kerry Balassone, Cafer Barkus, Amy Griffin, Beth Levine, Doug Barker, Al and Betty Gazaygian, June Tuligankas, Larry Melander, Lisa Sandell, Kerrie Baldwin, and Manuela Soares."



See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]