From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places. An E. B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book, it s perfect for fans of the author s other middle grade novels: The Spindlers and the Curiosity House series.Read more...
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places. An E. B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book, it s perfect for fans of the author s other middle grade novels: The Spindlers and the Curiosity House series.
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 named Po appears from the darkness.
That same evening, an alchemist's apprentice named Will makes an innocent mistake that has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-08-29
- Reviewer: Staff
The sun has not shined for 1,728 days and counting in YA author Oliver’s (Delirium) first book for middle-grade readers, a gloominess that underscores a plot in which adults seek personal gain at the expense of children. Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure: a young girl locked in an attic, a wicked stepmother, an alchemist, an orphan boy running from a cruel master. Add two nearly identical boxes—one containing the ashes of 11-year-old Liesl’s recently deceased father, the other holding “the Most Powerful Magic in the World”—and mix them up, and excitement begins to break through the bleakness. Po, a presence from “the Other Side,” brings Liesl a message to bury her father’s ashes underneath a certain willow tree, inspiring her to escape her imprisonment in her stepmother’s attic and head for the train. An exhilarating chase ensues, as characters pursue the runaway children and the mixed-up boxes. Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
Adventures with a friendly ghost
Liesl & Po begins very darkly. Liesl’s attic room is a “uniform gray darkness,” much like the world outside her window. In this bleak environment, she meets Po, a smudge of a ghost, three nights after her father dies. Po lives on the Other Side, a shadowy dimension of wild uncertainty.
The likable characters in this story all have some sadness and loss in their lives, while the villains are ugly and dark from a lack of inner light or feeling. Both types contribute to the somber mood in this lightless world. But small joys and flashes of warmth offer promise of what is to come.
Liesl and Po set out on a quest to restore Liesl’s father’s ashes to the home of her childhood. Along the way, author Lauren Oliver brilliantly weaves a cast of characters whose life stories begin to intersect in miraculous ways. Although the events feel a bit contrived at times, as the reader foresees the coming connections, these happy coincidences are not begrudged. Oliver is careful to make the entire construct feel like a fairy tale and young readers will be pleased by the way all the pieces come together.
In the passing of only a few days, we reach a conclusion that gives us the light we and Liesl and Po crave throughout the story. There is the redemption we hope for, the easing of sadness, and the delight in the hope newly found. This is a small story with big feeling, a quiet movement in a loud world, and a book definitely worth reading.