Thursday, January 19, 2012

Liesl and Po

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

Magic. Pure magic. And it can all be attributed to Lauren Oliver's gorgeous writing. The plot seems like it ought to be fairy tale cliche by reading the blurb (girl locked up in the attic by her evil stepmother?) but it's so not. The story is beautiful and reminded me of The Tale of Despereaux. Characters and events and objects and storylines interweave and mesh. I read this nice and slowly and just savored it. I haven't loved loved a book like this in a while. Oh the writing. It makes me depressed actually because I know I don't write like Lauren Oliver. She made me pause at times and just shiver. And occasionally laugh. And once even tear up just a bit.

This book is incredibly sad and poignant at times. It's about coping with loss and grief. But it's also about joy and love and happiness. It's a book I know I will want to share with my kids. And the illustrations! Such beauty. This is a great book and it doesn't surprise me that it's on lists of possible Newbery books or 2011 (which should be announced very soon!).

One minor beef that I want to mention is that Po, the ghost, is described as being a boy-or-girl-but-most-likely-boy. Po is always referred to as "it" and the reason for this gender neutrality is because after death, a person's soul meshes and blends with the universe and things like gender are vague and unnecessary. The same goes for Po's pet Bundle (cat-or-dog-but-most-likely-dog). This irked me just a bit because it seemed to be implying that gender doesn't matter and that after we die it ceases to exist and that theory does not work with my religious beliefs. I call this a minor beef because, surprisisingly enough, the issue is actually resolved at the end in a way that I won't share (trying to be spoiler free here). Anyway, it's just a teeny thing that shouldn't keep anyone from reading this beautiful book.

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