“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You may not live on the island, but you can’t tell me it’s not your home. Your bubble, Mr. Baker. It’s been popped. Why would you allow it to grow around you again?”
So what’s the book about?
Linus Baker is a model public servant. For decades he has worked in the special department of the Youth Welfare Office, which is responsible for the welfare of magically gifted children and young people. He has never been sick for a day, and the agency’s rulebook is his bedtime reading. Linus’ monotonous existence changes abruptly when he is sent on a secret mission. He is to take a closer look at the orphanage of a certain Mr. Parnassus, which is located on a remote island. No sooner does Linus arrive there than he discovers that Mr. Parnassus’ charges are rather special – one of them may even be the son of the devil! Linus will not get far in this home with his set of rules and his penchant for regulations, as he quickly realizes. Reluctantly, he embarks on the magical adventure that awaits him on the island and experiences the biggest surprise of his life.
Why I wanted to read this Standalone?
Once again, a book I bought just because of the cover. If I had read the blurb, I would have to confess that I would not have bought the book, because it sounds like a typical women’s novel for mothers – nothing against the book taste of mothers, but according to the stereotype of what mothers read, this is definitely not for me! When I finally read the blurb after acquiring it, I thought I had made a complete bad purchase, but figured there weren’t that many pages, so I’d read this book anyway. And I’ll tell you something, it made me cry, so it can’t have been that bad 😛
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- Linus made it difficult for me at the beginning. The man is such a stickler for the rules, it makes you tear your hair out while reading, and at the same time I sat in front of the book so often shaking my head, because he has absolutely nothing except his job and his cat. There are no friends, no hobbies (aside from the fact that he loves music) and he’s so comfortable in his very small comfort zone that the first time he looks outside the box he almost has a heart attack. Linus Baker is a character you can really feel sorry for, and there are probably far too many of them in the world. Only when he arrives at Arthur’s Island – the journey there alone is … without words – does he very, very slowly begin to realize that life is far more than his copy of ‘Rules and Regulations,’ a rulebook Linus lives by and knows inside and out. But Arthur and the children succeed in changing Linus’s entrenched views because they simply won’t be pigeonholed the way he’s pigeonholed his whole life so far, and they do so with an urgency and kindness that is just delightful to read.
- One of the things I liked best, of course, were the magically gifted children. Here, one is more impressive than the other is. Just this childlike directness. All shaped by their past and previous experiences, and yet all so heart-warming. Many adults can take a leaf out of their unprejudiced lives. Each and every child is truly awesome, unique and lovable. It quickly becomes clear that they believe in the good. Some of them have already had very unpleasant things happen to them, but they still don’t give up and hope for a better life. They themselves are first of all without prejudice and that although they themselves face so much mistrust, so many preconceived notions, fear, hatred or exclusion. Because people fear the magical beings. The author really takes a lot of time to breathe life into his characters and manages to make each person so unique that no one resembles the other. By gradually getting to know the individual children and their magical talents through Linus’s eyes, I could relate to how each of the children crept into Linus’s heart – because I felt the same way. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Chauncey, who has a great desire to become a Bellhop, which I found so enchanting.
- Even though the book is a very character driven story, I found it interesting how this book starts in a kind of dystopian setting. With many posters, the monotonous grey life and the monotonous authority it reminded me of many classic dystopias, among others of 1984 by George Orwell, where everything is also so dreary and emotionless. I didn’t expect that at all and was positively super interested in this mixture, in which a modern fairy tale is linked with a dystopia. It was even very exaggerated at times. With, for example, the bosses squatting in the dark room and looking down on him from above, very satirical. The setting also couldn’t fit into a certain time one hundred percent, some modern Technologies from the 60s were used, but everyone had a computer at work that was used. However, there is never any talk of the Internet, the reports are sent by mail, and no one seems to have a smartphone either.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
It’s hard for me to put this fantastic book into words, but overall I was completely enchanted not only by Linus Baker, but also all the other characters in the book. What Klune has created here is truly an extraordinary and heartfelt fantasy story about children who are ostracized from society because of their magical abilities and finally get to feel like they belong through Mr. Parnassus’ home. The book deals with the themes of acceptance and tolerance and that it’s totally okay to be different in a diverse and endearing way. The story thus contains many important, and beautiful, messages that convey courage and hope and always put a smile on my face. This book is simply a feel-good novel through and through! The story could make you feel sad, but it doesn’t. It is beautiful and is full of hope. It shows how much it depends on each individual and that it is never too late to live your dreams. After finishing the book, I immediately felt like calling my mother to tell her how important she is to me.
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