Here's what people have been saying about Iris and her adventures:
"The real world holds little charm for young Iris Greenwold. Frustrated by her overbearing parents, uncaring classmates and sadistic teachers at Erebus Middle School, Iris escapes on flights of imagination -- and sometimes gets into trouble as a result. On Iris's 12th birthday, an anonymous gift arrives for her: a copy of Bulfinch's Mythology. Personal notes written in the margins lead Iris to an amazing discovery -- the Greek gods and goddesses of antiquity are all living close to her home in suburban Pennsylvania.
Equipped with another gift, a rainbow shawl that instantly transports her anywhere she can imagine, Iris sets out to locate the deities. She finds Poseidon running a derelict clam shack on the Jersey Shore, Apollo playing a mean jazz saxophone in a nightclub run by Dionysus, and Ares waging war in the courtroom as a sharp-witted lawyer. Each tells her a story from ancient mythology, providing clues that help her in her quest to find the rest of the immortals and unearth the truth about why she doesn't fit in with everyone else. Might she actually be a legendary goddess herself? In the process, Iris learns valuable lessons about self-confidence and perseverance.
Brooklyn-based Deming, a former Golden Gloves champion, pastry chef and yoga instructor, doesn't shy away from citing the occasional violence and cruelty of the original Greek myths, yet in her debut novel, she also demonstrates a flair for fanciful situations and surprising narrative turns. The author's eye for colorful detail -- in one scene, Apollo and Ares haggle over the value of Iris's mother's rare jazz LP collection -- makes Iris, Messenger not only an entertaining novel, but perhaps even a catalyst to send its readers on their own Iris-like voyages of discovery. "
-Steve Smith, Time Out New York Kids
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"Iris Greenwold is a dreamer; it's how she escapes her miserable existence. Her mother researches soybeans for an uncaring employer and her wacky father lives far away and pays almost no attention to her. Erebus Middle School is awful, with classmates who torment her and teachers who don't understand why she doesn't pay attention. And then, for her 12th birthday, Iris receives an incredible gift: Bulfinch's Mythology. Reading about the exploits of the Greek gods is right up her alley, but she is puzzled when mysterious messages start popping up in the book's pages and downright startled to discover that the gods are all living nearby at the New Jersey shore and in the Philadelphia area. Moreover, they desperately need her help. As she meets such figures as Poseidon (who runs a seaside oyster shack), Apollo (owner of a cool jazz club), and Aphrodite (stylist extraordinaire), she's also treated to firsthand accounts of Greek myths. This engaging story of an unhappy girl whose dreaming pays off in wonderful ways will be a hit with adolescents dealing with those difficult middle school years. Give it to readers who gobble up Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series (Hyperion/Miramax) and other novels where teens interact with the Greek pantheon."
-Sharon Grover, School Library Journal
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"Iris' discovery that the Greek gods have moved to the Philadelphia area sparks an adventure even more marvelous than the best of her many daydreams. Thanks to clues written in the margins of a 12th-birthday gift copy of Bulfinch's Mythology, Iris finds Poseidon running an oyster shack down on the Jersey shore, Apollo playing jazz in a small club, Ares working as a lawyer, and other deities, none of them what they once were, similarly keeping low profiles. Most are friendly sorts though, who offer her personal, chapter-lenght versions of familiar myths (including the story of Phaethon as a bluesy ballad) and send her on to the next encounter in what becomes a journey of self-discovery. Iris, it seems, is a member of the Family, and by the end, not only has she learned that her father isn't who she thought he was, but the sinking fortunes of her and her mother -- an out-of-work soybean scientist -- have undergone a literally miraculous reversal. Deming isn't the first to use the "American gods" premise, but she develops it with uncommon verve, and her characters, mortal or otherwise, positively sparkle."
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"Iris is a typical middle-schooler who makes her sarcastic nature known from the very beginning: "The main difference between school and prison is that prisons release you early for good behavior. School lasts about thirteen years no matter how good you are. Also, prison has better food."
Okay, Iris doesn't fit in but she really doesn't want to. She thinks her teachers are either idiots or deranged (correct perceptions on her part as the story reveals) and life at home with a scientist mother devoted to all things soy isn't all that much better either. Her distant and ardently religious father has remarried a woman apparently allergic to children and the only thing keeping Iris from losing her mind is a very healthy imagination that unfortunately makes it hard to pay attention to anything school-related. And then her birthday comes along and she receives an amazing edition of Bulfinch's Mythology and life gets way more exciting.
Let's all pause for a moment and recall the wonderfulness that is Bullfinch's.
In short order Iris has followed some clues in the book's margins and tracked down Poseidon, God of the Sea, now hopelessly lovesick and running a crabshack. She also meets Apollo, performing in a jazz club where Dionysus runs the bar and Aphrodite who runs a beauty salon for immortals.
She meets other gods and goddesses as well, several of whom share pertinent stories from their lives that many readers will recognize. The stories fit perfectly with the unexpected mystery that Iris finds herself caught up in and they also provide her with valuable hints as to what the best course of action is for her to take. In the end she finds out a secret about herself, helps her mom find a better job and makes a ton of good friends. There are also many funny moments in the book, especially those surrounding life at Erebus Middle School. Everything comes together quite nicely in Iris, Messenger and I found myself enjoying it more and more as the story progressed. The bonus here is that the "real" stories from the various gods and goddesses are going to whet the appetite of more than one reader and make them seek out a book like Bulfinch's on their own."
-Colleen Mondor, Bookslut
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Online review in the wonderful litblog Bookshelves of Doom
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More information for mythophiles:
Read Bulfinch's mythology on line.
Look up family trees of the gods.
Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey.
The timeless classic: D'Aulaires Greek Myths