Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand

Victoria is about as straight an arrow as ever there was, striving for perfection, and disliking anything even resembling silliness.  Her best, well only actually, friend is Lawrence, a boy with skunk striped hair, rumpled and untucked shirts, and phenomenal musical ability.  When Lawrence goes missing, and Victoria notices the townspeople behaving strangely, she is determined to get to the bottom of it all.  She suddenly learns that the town harbors a great secret.

You have no idea how much I wish books like this existed when I was a young adult.  This book has so much depth, mixed with heart, mystery, and a pretty substantial amount of darkness.  If books like this had existed when I was a young adult, I might have waited until I was older than 12 to read Stephen King.  I really thought this was a fantastic piece of YA literature.  The characters are memorable and archetypal.  We all had that one perfect boy or girl in school that would flip out over getting an A- as opposed to an A.  Young adult readers will be able to relate to the heart of the story, with the focus on the pressure to conform, and the difficulty in navigating friendship at this tenuous age.  The dark element in the book represents the fact that there are many kinds of evil in the world, even kinds that appear benevolent.  

The story, as I said, is quite dark, and more than once I got a creepy crawly feeling while reading it.  It is very similar to Coraline, with a pinch of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  The story certainly transports the reader to a new world, one that is a little dangerous, a little scary, and very exhilarating.  As an adult reader, I found myself captivated with this book; I can only imagine the effects would be compounded in a young adult reader.

 I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program. 


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