On reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

February 28, 2014 § 1 Comment


 On reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

     Fantasy and time travel are not among my favorite reads, but young adult literature is. That’s how I met Jacob and his friends: The Bird, The Levitating Girl, The Invisible Boy, and a myriad other characters in this addictive and poignant novel.

     Stories told by Jacob’s grandfather sets the reader up for an adventure of mystery, intrigue, danger, magic, hope, love, and friendship. While particularly appealing to middle graders and young adults, I found myself captivated first by the stories, and then later by the beautiful writing, bits of history, and sense of urgency to find out what happens to this strange band of characters.

     And THEN, Riggs really caught my attention in the interview at the end of the book. Asked what inspired this book, he mentioned a hobby of collecting old photographs of long-dead people, mainly from other collectors and people who shopped flea markets and yard sales. From these mysterious and captivating frozen moments of lives unknown, Riggs constructed his own stories of the peculiar photographic subjects and drew them all together to give them lives in mid-war Whales, across time barriers, through portals, and amid flesh-eating monsters.

     Admittedly, I was not such a fan of the gory bits per se, but when viewed as a metaphor, I was intrigued. Not that Riggs MEANT for all readers to think in terms of metaphor, but that’s where my adult reader’s mind took me. Young people will delight in the magic, the strangeness, the time warps, and most likely even the flesh-eating creatures. Adults will more than likely be intrigued by the understory, the poignancy of a time and place, and the delightful turns-of-phrases found in the writing. And let me not forget the thread of references to Emerson throughout.

     And there’s a sequel, thankfully, for I must know what happens to Jacob and his odd, brave band of fellows as they seek to save the world of the “peculiars” from the monsters that hunt them.  After reading the book, the reader will never look at side shows, Santas, psychiatrists, and old photos in the same way.

     Below are a few of those wonderful bits of writing and intrigue Riggs concocts:

 “Sometimes you just need to go through a door.”

“…in a thread-bare blazer and pajama bottoms, as if he’d been expecting company—just not pants-ready company.”

“That one night was my whole war.”

“Sheep doddering around like little puffs of cotton candy.”

“the house’s feral yard”

“rooms that had become more outside than inside”

“…as if time had stopped the night they died”

“I thought about all the bad things and I fed it and fed it   until I was crying so hard I had to gasp for breath between   sobs.”

“…a bloom of …perfect whiteness spread out before me and swallowed everything.”

“If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes  would it take us to realize that we were alone?”

“Sometimes it’s better not to look back.”

“We answered with a cry of our own, both a victory yell and a  lament, for everything lost and yet to be gained.”

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life  was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

“…I realized that leaving wouldn’t be like I had imagined, like casting off a weight. Their memory was something tangible and heavy, and I would carry it with me.”

“The doors had been blown off our cages.”

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