Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whimsical and Somewhat Dark: A book review of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"

Do you like peculiar children? How about old photographs, mysteries, and fantasy?

I just finished Miss Peregrine's Home for PeculiarChildren by Ransom Riggs, a novel that weaves vintage photographs of oddities, such as a floating girl and an invisible boy, into a fascinating story about sixteen-year-old Jacob searching for the truth about his grandfather's past. In the process, he learns much about himself.

The novel feels a bit like the Tim Burton film, "Big Fish."

Riggs notes that the pictures in the book are authentic, vintage found photographs. A few have undergone minimal postprocessing.

When my sister handed me the novel, I flipped through the pages, looking at each photo, wondering about the story behind it. As it turns out, this was a delightful approach to the book. The main character himself wonders about these photos before learning the true story behind them. (Oh gosh, I'm dying to say more, but I don't want to spoil it for you.) So, along with Jacob, the reader discovers the mystery of the old pictures.

The writing is brilliant and multilayered. The language is vivid. As my sister described it, "There's not a wasted word." I found it whimsical yet dark. Layered, because it's a fantasy time-travely story, but also a coming of age book. It comments on WWII, the challenges of being different, and about family dynamics. Some of the characters make questionable choices, but the book leaves the reader to evaluate them for him or herself. It was a compelling read and I'd recommend it to teens and adults.


Joylene said...

I love the feeling one gets when they read a story that they can't wait to share. That is a wonderful feeling. Thanks for finding one more book for my list, Amanda. A list that is growing by leaps and bounds, I'm happy to say. I'll share why in a few months. Best to you.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Thanks, Joylene!
I'll look forward to your happy news in a few months then! :)

Jasmine Elizabeth Thompson said...

I loved this book. I think it would be a fun writing exercise to gather your own photos, and write a story based on them. I use a lot of photos for inspiration anyway, but it might be fun to use photos in lieu of a written outline. And no, this is not just an excuse to spend more time procrastinating on pinterest. ;)

Kara Hartz said...

I shouldn't read your book reviews. I want to read ever book you talk about, and i have a stack of my won to get through. Darn you.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Jasmine~ That's a brilliant idea.
Oh yeah, pinterest is so addicting!

Kara~ Ha-ha! ;)

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