This book came to me via my #bookexpedition group on Twitter. The release date is August 29th. Recently I noticed some chat about this book online so I was curious to read it when it arrived in the mail the other day.
What It Is About: The first surprise was that the book was in the same format as Brian Selznick books. There were two story lines. One was set in 2017 and the second one was set in 1982. The 2017 plot was told in beautiful black and white illustrations while the 1982 plot was in diary form. In 1982 Mary is living in the Thornhill orphanage. She is an outcast and has been targeted by the leader/bully of all the girls that live here. Mary records her daily torments in her journal and all she wants is to be left alone. Finding refuge in creating puppets, Mary finds her life a bit easier to deal with. No one, including the adults, believe that she is being treated so terribly. After most of the girls leave Thornhill, Mary is left alone with her tormentor. When life gets so unbearable, she takes things into her own hands to deal with things once and for all. Years later in 2017, Ella moves into a home across the street from Thornhill which is now closed and abandoned. Ella knows no one and her father is always at work. As she spends time in her room, she notices a girl in the gardens of Thornhill. Over time, she slowly makes her way into the gardens and Thornhill to find out who this mysterious girl is.
What I Thought Of It: I began the book last night and about an hour and a half later I finished the last page. I can honestly say I've never read a story like this one. It was haunting, terrifying, disturbing, and upsetting. I've read stories about kids being bullied, but nothing like Mary had to endure. I actually cringed during several scenes. I wanted to jump into the book and rescue Mary. The combination of illustrations and text made for an amazing reading experience. The two stories moved toward each other at a most perfect pace and built to one heck of a climax. I would have never predicted the conclusion and was in complete shock and disbelief.
Who Should Read It: The age and grade range on Amazon is ages 10-14 and grades 5-9. In my opinion is this more of a middle school and up story. Because of the topics, themes, and content, I would lean toward readers being in grades seven and up. There were actually times as I was reading that it felt more like an young-adult and/or adult novel. It is beautifully written and tackles some relevant and important issues, but I'm not sure I would want readers under seventh grade reading it on their own. Just my opinion. Read for yourself and then decide. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars