Study Guide

Gigi in Dancing on the Edge

By Han Nolan

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To say that Gigi is Miracle's crazy grandma doesn't even begin to do this lady justice. Normally, her obsession with occult rituals and superstitions about colors and numbers would just make people see her as eccentric—and to be fair, the occult is a thriving enterprise and there are probably a lot of grandmas who whip out the Ouija board at parties to talk to dead relatives. But what makes Gigi different isn't her interest in the occult, but the way she uses it to manipulate and control others.

Check out the fake image she crafts for herself, for starters. It's easy for Miracle (and others) to believe Gigi has powers because she's so careful to portray herself as "flashy and exotic" (4.6). She's so committed to this persona that, until she joins The Other Realms, she doesn't even have any friends. As she explains to Miracle:

"They have to believe I'm different […] That I don't eat or sleep or go to the bathroom like normal people […] Someone like that wouldn't be able to contact the spirit world […] They have to believe, or it won't work." (8.1)

What's really interesting about this statement is that it sounds an awful lot like something Juleen says to Miracle later in the book. "It's all illusions, magic tricks," she tells her. "People see what they want to see and don't see what they don't want to see" (16.79). On some level, Gigi knows that she has no real power—but by projecting the right image and surrounding herself with people who don't know the real her, she creates the illusion of being mysterious and magical.

Perhaps the scariest part of this, though, is how hard Miracle falls for it. Like, it's one thing to trick strangers in the name of making a little money or earning a little prestige, but it's a whole different thing to deliberately trick your family. And that's what Gigi does—she takes her magical manipulation to the next level.

Magic isn't the only way Gigi acts as a master manipulator, though. Her flamboyant, dramatic personality makes it easy for her to take charge of a situation and make it turn out the way she wants it to. For instance, Dane might not have wanted to be a famous writer, but his opinion wasn't worth much to Gigi—she still whisked him off to the beach house against his will.

She didn't stop with her son, though, and when Sissy became pregnant, Gigi forced her and Dane to move in with her and "smothered them with her care" (26.58). And then, at the end of the book, she kidnaps Miracle so she can use her as a guinea pig for her healing powers and gain a greater following. This time, though, Gigi's mistaken in her assumption that Miracle still believes in her grandmother's miracles. Needless to say, Gigi doesn't take kindly to Miracle's skepticism, going so far as to ditch her without any money to make her own way home. Burn.

As long as we're talking about Gigi's dark side—and this woman is basically Darth Vader with incense and fake eyelashes—let's make up some conspiracy theories about what really happened to Dane. The text is silent on where Dane went, though Miracle's theory that he snapped and had to get away from Gigi makes a lot of sense.

But think about this: If Gigi's powers aren't real, then she had to have known that Dane was gone, or else the Ouija board wouldn't have spelled out the words. Miracle tells us that Gigi was "suspected of foul play" (2.30) after Dane's disappearance, and she's awfully quick to skip town after the controversy gets stirred up.

Is it possible that Gigi had something to do with Dane's disappearance? We'll never know for sure, but her absence of actual powers definitely calls her innocence into question. Either way, we can all agree that Gigi's not going to win any Grandma of the Year awards any time soon.

Gigi in Dancing on the Edge Study Group

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