Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Review - The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

I mentioned on Monday that there was one book I had to review this week – and one that I will be reviewing after ALA. The one that I just HAVE to review now, that I am compelled to review now, is Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy.

I first encountered Anne’s writing a few years ago with the memorable Breadcrumbs. I finished that book and was immediately reminded of another author that is a favorite of mine – Rebecca Stead. When I read a book by Rebecca Stead I’m often left with the impression that her writing is “smart.” I’m not sure what I mean by that exactly – the words are carefully chosen and create an intricate story in my head. I am swept away into the book when I read Stead’s stories, and I mourn their endings. I felt the same way reading Breadcrumbs. I loved that book for so many things: the obvious love Anne has to books – the nods to many of my favorite titles, including When You Reach Me, the friendship between Jack and Hazel, Hazel’s determination to save her friend, and so on.  So when I heard Anne had a new book coming out, I was excited. When I had friends reading it that I trust – and they were loving it – I was impatient.

Thankfully for me, Walden Pond Press was kind enough to send me an ARC of this beautiful book. Here we follow the story of Oscar. Oscar is happy to work in the basement of the magician’s shop, grinding herbs and talking to his cats. Oscar leads a rather quiet life, which is what he wants. He struggles being around people and doesn’t seem to understand how to communicate with them. This world is turned upside down by a crazy chain of events – violence in the village, the magician’s absence, and an illness sweeping the lands. All of this combines to tell the tale of a boy trying to find his way in the most beautiful way possible.

I’ve always been known to read quickly – often I even read the back of the book first because I HAVE to know what will happen. If I need to read more deeply, I will reread a book before slowing down, I must race to the end. I did not do that with this book. I didn’t even peak at the ending. This is not because I didn’t enjoy it – quite the opposite. I savored this beautiful book. I mourned the ending because I did not want to leave the characters of Oscar and Callie. Pick this book up because you love to read beautiful and smart books. Or pick it up because you need a story about friendship and courage. Or truly, pick up The Real Boy because it is a book that should not be missed – this is one to treasure.