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Why I Let My Hair Grow Out    by Maryrose Wood order for
Why I Let My Hair Grow Out
by Maryrose Wood
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Morgan Rawlinson, the protagonist of Why I Let My Hair Grow Out has an engaging voice and attitude to spare. When her controlling boyfriend Raph - of whom she says 'If you took his map of me and tried to find your way from my nose to my chin, you'd get lost before you got past the nostril' - drops her, she's devastated and lashes out at all around her. Their patience at an end - especially after Morgan cuts off her two feet of once strawberry blond hair and dyes the stubble shades of orange - her parents arrange a week-long bike tour of Ireland, hoping that the change of scene will bring their daughter to her senses.

Morgan's attitude continues even after she's picked up at Shannon airport by the athletic, handsome Colin, whose job with the Emerald Cycle Bike Tour Company is to drive a van behind the cyclists and shepherd those who get into difficulty. Her fellow tourists include an English family of four, a woman named Lucy who's been recently widowed, European twins in spandex, whose grasp of the English language is limited, and a pair of newlyweds from LA. Morgan's partnered with Lucy but, after behaving badly with Colin, goes off on her own, against the rules. After getting lost, she has a bad fall and a concussion, which is when her real adventure begins.

Morgan finds herself back in old Ireland, where she's recognized - by a young man named Fergus who resembles Colin - as Morganne of the faery folk. He takes her to the village of Dun Meara, most of whose people (including their ruler, King Conor) have been cursed in different ways by the faeries. (Fergus has been cursed with a lovesickness that comes and goes.) Morgan finds herslf moving back and forth between this time and her own. In the past, she helps sort out the curses, while encountering heroes like Ulster's Cuchulainn and royalty like Queen Maeve. In the present, she gradually bonds with the disparate group she's with, gets close to Colin, and remembers who she really is, rather than the construct Raph invented.

While I enjoyed Morgan's early attitude and basically strong character, and liked the theme of the wrongness of her attempting to change to suit her manipulative boyfriend, the fantasy element didn't work as well, often seeming contrived. Overall, though, Why I Let My Hair Grow Out is a cute story with a sweet ending in which Morgan, back home again, tells her pesky younger sister a bedtime story -that of her own adventures - musing, 'I was so glad to have someone to tell.'

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