The girls were never present for the entrance interviews. Only their parents, their guardians, their confused siblings, who wanted so much to help them but didn’t know how. It would have been too hard on the prospective students to sit there and listen as the people they loved most in all the world – all this world, at least, dismissed their memories as delusions, their experiences as fantasy, their lives as some intractable illness.
Imagine a world where you are not only accepted, but revered. Where you’re not different, a minority, or misunderstood. A magical world of supernatural beings, exactly the kind of reality you’re into, a place where you feel 100% at home. But for whatever reason, you were cast out, and now you’re back in the Real World. And it isn’t kind.
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children takes in these lost souls; kids who have found their way back to Reality, but who don’t want to be there.
It’s a knockout concept of a novel. But for me, sadly, it failed on the execution.
First of all, I did enjoy this book. The concept, as I said, was fabulous, and oh so very relatable. No one in this world is completely happy with it. Our society is flawed, it’s not hard to see, and life on this planet is not easy for anyone. And then there are those who suffer just a tad more than others: those with mental illnesses, a sexuality or gender identity that is not considered “normal”, people who don’t fit into those boxes that those in power believe to be a “one size fits all” kind of deal. There are so many of us who don’t believe themselves to be meant for this world.
Sumi has Nonsense in her heart, and so a door opened that would take her to a world where she could wear it proudly, not hide it away. That was her read story. Finding a place where she could be free.
It was wonderful to see so many different types of people represented here, and to read about their stories, why they didn’t fit. Each fantasy world they visited was perfect for them, and the magical details were so well-written and interesting – I wanted more! And for every kid’s story, I felt just a little bit more heart-broken when reading about their return. It’s so easy to imagine how lost they felt, how bereft. Because, for a lot of people, imagining a better world to live in is a daily past-time. It was even more heart-breaking to read about the parents, sending them away to the Home for Wayward Children, because they think their children have changed.
My parents still think they’re somehow magically going to get back the little girl they lost. they haven’t let me come home for five years. no, maybe that’s unfair – or too fair. they wont let me come home. If i want to put on a skirt and tell them to call me ‘Katie’, they’ll welcome me with open arms.
They didn’t change. They discovered a world where they could embrace who they were and be loved for it. They didn’t change, their parents just saw them for who they really were upon their return. And they wanted to change them back. They didn’t mean to be cruel, but they could never understand. And it tugged so hard at my heartstrings.
Their love wanted to fix her and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.
Unfortunately, the plot of the book let me down. It had so much potential; if expanded into a full-length novel it could have been more adventure-esque, more exciting. But it felt like the only plot we had was just thrown in as a afterthought to support the concept. Sadly it just wasn’t good enough. And it was such a shame.
It may have been a tad more enjoyable if I had more feelings towards the characters. And though I empathized with their stories, I didn’t find myself liking any of them. Apart from Jack. Jack was rather awesome.
“How have you seen pictures from before she went traveling?” asked Kade.
“I have the Internet, and her Facebook password is the name of her cat, which she has a picture of above her bed.” Jack snorted. “I am a genius of infinite potential and highly limited patience. People shouldn’t try me so.”
Even though I was disappointed in the plot, this novel is still one I’d recommend, just for the concept alone. It’s smart, it’s relatable, and it’s a story that does make you think. It made me feel like I’m less alone when I’m dreaming of a kinder world. It made me feel like we’re not all so separate after all. Maybe if we all started to accept that everyone thinks the world could be better, we would start listening to the people who are trying to change it.