Magic Eight Ball


221 pages
ISBN 0-88974-063-1
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is an ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster, B.C.


In Magic Eight Ball, we meet Julia, a young girl, then a young woman,
with odd thoughts and a colorful imagination. We follow Julia through
her adolescence, to university in Guelph, then to Calgary where she
continues her life with the surprise addition of a son, Peter. In
Calgary, where she makes her life, she meets Mary, who will in the end
bring Julia’s world into focus. Throughout, the 8-ball is consulted on
serious matters. Julia wanders through life feeling that she is a step
behind everyone else—especially her childhood friend, Lois—and not
psychologically equipped to deal with her lesbian great-aunt and growing
child. As she interacts with others, Julia pictures an “antenna from
the crown of her skull to receive instruction on the current emotional
response” needed for the situation.

Douglas invites the reader into Julia’s head, allowing us to tiptoe
through her odd impressions and thoughts. Her witty similes bring a
smile even when Julia is in a difficult situation, because they are so
expressive. Douglas is adept at creating surprising analogies that
manage to depict Julia’s state of mind beautifully. As well, the
characters are realistically conceived and convincing. All in all, Magic
Eight Ball is a refreshing novel.


Douglas, Marion., “Magic Eight Ball,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,