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I found “Nemecia” very frustrating at first—the older girl bullying her younger cousin in such quiet, unnoticed ways and Maria never defending herself—but also intriguing in the fictional, yet supremely personal and complex bad blood relationship presented. There are moments in the story, especially in the beginning (Maria’s telling of how Nemecia permanently disfigured her face) that the language and inner monologue displace and confuse the anger and hatred that the younger girl will later feel for her older cousin—the “miracle child”. Sentences like “It only hurt a little, and what did I, at seven years old, care about beauty?” (pg. 9) draw attention to the fact that at the time, she was only seven, and didn’t understand a thing about scars or what Nemecia was really doing to her, and the better question; why she was doing it.

I also thought the name and title “Nemecia” were interesting; my first thought upon reading the word for the first time was that it sounded eerily similar to “nemesis” which is almost the relationship being described in this reflective narrative. Though we never get Nemecia’s perspective, it is present in the way she acts and speaks towards our main character (making Maria afraid of her by confessing to “murder”, maiming the little girl’s face, taking away her goal of getting to lead the Corpus Christi event) that these feelings of resentment are mutual.

Overall, I believe Nemecia is thought provoking and extremely well crafted. The title is a touch of foreshadowing, the characters believable and very present in the story (ie., the use of a picture to begin, describing the two main characters and their outward appearances) and the portrayal of resentment, jealousy, and eventually an almost understanding between the two, or maybe some form of acceptance. “Nemecia held a wineglass up to the window and turned it. ‘See how clear?’ Shards of light moved across her face.” (pg. 26) There does not seem to be any underlying tones of resentment left in this sentence, just a form of accepting who Maria’s cousin is. I believe this to be true because of the revisiting of the scar left on her own face from Nemecia when talking about the picture of the little group on the beach. “My scar shows as a gray smear on my cheek.” (pg. 24) This is not a story about the mending of a relationship between two girls, but their acceptance and understanding of themselves, and in a way, each other.

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