In the first half of the eighth chapter of Games Wizards Play, Dairine and Nita bond, and Dairine gets closer to understanding Mehrnaz. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of child abuse, emotional abuse.
We’re at a point now where it’s undeniable how close Dairine and Nita are, and the opening of chapter eight filled me with FEELINGS OF FRIENDSHIP. Yes, part of the reason Dairine behaves as she does out of exhaustion, but I don’t want to ignore that their conversation is just so effortless. Dairine easily falls into assisting Nita with Penn’s spell, and I LOVE EVERY PART OF IT. There’s a mutual respect here: Dairine helps Nita because she recognizes that her sister is stressed out dealing with Kit on top of Penn’s foolishness. Nita recognizes how exhausted her sister is and OFFERS TO MAKE HER COFFEE. And this is all done so casually and I just??? THEY’RE SO GREAT.
I wanted to spend the bulk of this review talking about Dori Farrahi, though, because… good lord. Y’all. I can relate, though it’s not because my mother was exactly the same. Dori hides her real intentions in kindness, and my mother was far too passive aggressive (or flat-out aggressive) to be comparable. But there’s an element that Duane imbues within Dori’s characterization that was intimately familiar to me. How exactly do you counter what an abusive or manipulative person is doing when they’re masking it in concern?
See, there’s a part of this chapter that was most striking to me: Dori claims (or, rather, performs) her love for her daughter over and over, so much so that it’s all she can seemingly talk about. She just doesn’t want Merhnaz to be hurt! Or to get in trouble! And Merhnaz is a bit more sheltered, so maybe she won’t fit in!
Duane does a fantastic job of reminding us of how observant Dairine is, and that’s how we get some of my favorite exchanges in the book so far. The interplay between what Dori says and Dairine’s internal translation is brilliant, but it’s also violent. Abusive and manipulative people can be exceedingly good at hiding their real meaning within things like politeness, protocol, and “respect.” It’s exactly what Dori does. She claims to support and believe in her daughter, but then undermines her in increasingly subtle ways. Which is all to say: NO WONDER MERHNAZ DOES NOT BELIEVE IN HERSELF. If this is how her mother treats her while there’s a guest present, it is most assuredly worse in private. Which is why I respect how Dairine pushes back against Dori. It is rarely, if ever, a good idea to call out an abuser in public because that abuser will take things out on their victim in private. I speak on this from experience because I had a teacher in high school tell my mother to her face that she was crushing my spirit. That the way she treated me at home was affecting my school work, that I was in desperate need for support and love and affection. She wasn’t wrong, and despite that I had barely told her what was going on, she could tell just how bad things were. And maybe her outbreak was due to frustration; my mom was pulling me out of a club for a completely bullshit reason, and my teacher could see through it.
It’s not that I don’t admire that teacher for standing up for me. I really do! It meant the world to me. At the same time, my mother lashed out at me at home for months because of it. She spread horrible rumors at school about this woman; she made me drop out of all the extracurricular activities I wanted to do so she could keep me under her control; she refused to let me have friends outside of school. It was an unintended consequence, sure, but it still happened.
Dairine, however, casually shifts the conversation away from Merhnaz specifically to remind Dori about the manual. And it’s just passive aggressive enough that Dairine keeps the conversation casual and informative. And then she even gets Dori on her side by strategically using the Speech to claim she has no interest in any guy “on this planet.” WHICH ISN’T A LIE, OH MY GOD. BLESS.
I don’t think Dori is as bad as others, and her manipulation is downplayed for the most part. But I’m glad that Dairine recognized it and stood up for her mentee. IT IS VERY SATISFYING, OKAY.
Mark Links Stuff