I had seen this book in an entertainment magazine and was immediately caught by the title and the books intriguing cover (I know, never judge a book by its cover). I was a little hesitant, however, as I find it hard to find a really good Young Adult read. But, it just kept popping up everywhere I went, and I figured I would give it a shot, and I was gratefully rewarded!
The story follows Jacob Portman, a young rich boy with no real direction in his life. Like me, he was closest to his grandfather than anyone else in the family, and it is with his grandfather’s dying words that his life begins to take meaning. Jacob begins to interpret his grandfather’s last words, and through some convincing, his family allows him to travel to a remote island near Wales, in hopes that it would help bring Jacob some peace and closure. Once arriving on the island, he sets out to look for a particular house, a home for “peculiar children”, orphans, who were the focus of all of the stories his grandfather told him as a child, stories he though to be only fairy tales. Jacob eventually finds the house in ruins, a victim of World War II. But what happened to all of the orphans? What of his grandfather’s stories? How can he find closure now?
While exploring the remains of the house, he is discovered by a girl, and he follows her hoping to find answers to all of these questions and more. What he finds is a window to the past, a chance to understand his grandfather’s life, and a new purpose for his own.
What an incredibly enjoyable book! I love how the author took real vintage photographs and turned them into a story. The writing has an easy flow, with a lot of light humor, and just a perfect amount of twist and turns to have the reader turning the page to find out what happens next! I couldn’t put it down! The characters are all so rich and so different; you really start to feel “peculiar” right along with them. I fell in love with the characters, feared for them, and worried about them as if they were old friends. These were truly characters I wish to meet, and can’t wait to find out the next step in their story!