Word Spelunking

Liesl and Po - Lauren Oliver I didn’t know what to expect when I began to read Liesl and Po. From the synopsis I expected a cute, fantasy story about a girl and a ghost. What I got was so much more than that. And I never expected to find a story that moved me so tremendously.This book is truly magical, with its endearing characters; fantastical settings; and powerful messages. As Liesl and Po begins we are introduced to several important characters. Liesl is a young girl, who after losing her father, is locked away in the attic by her stepmother. Will, is an orphan boy who works as an alchemist’s apprentice. Po, is a ghost, neither boy nor girl, from the Other Side. And Mo is the watchman with a heart of gold. The lives of these four characters are forever changed and intertwined by a simple mistake. With the help of Po, and his ghostly pet Bundle, Leisl sets out to return her father’s ashes to her childhood home. Will, who has run away from the alchemist, is swept away into the adventure as well, as is Mo, who sets out to find Will.I really love the characters in this book. I just want to smoosh them all in the biggest group hug. The characters really tug at your heart and you can’t help but truly care for them. The trio of Leisl, Will, and Po make up a quirky, plucky, and brave bunch. And Mo-sweet, kind hearted Mo- I don’t think I’ve fallen in love with a caretaker type of character so quickly since J.K. Rowling introduced me to Hagrid. Oliver writes of magic in the forms of powders, potions, and incantations, but there is another kind of magic present in this book as well. The kind of magic that Oliver creates with her spellbinding, fantastical words. In her foreword, Oliver states that this book was the most personal one she’d ever written and that Liesl’s journey was very much her own, and that really comes through, making the story that more relatable and easy to connect with. One of the things that I really love about this book is that Oliver is never afraid to go THERE. Oliver doesn’t underestimate her younger intended audience or their ability to understand, comprehend, and appreciate the darker, honest aspects of life, death, grief, etc. And Oliver does go there when it comes to the characters’ very achingly honest grief and sadness. There were moments when this book had me in tears and managed to just pull apart my heart. But as a reader, I had to be able to understand the deepest, darkest parts of the characters’ sadness in order to follow their journey out of that darkness and, quite literally, into the light. One of the things that really impressed me and blew me away about this book is how beautiful it is. The story itself is masterfully crafted, but Oliver’s words and descriptions make it quite visually stunning as well. The actual illustrations are lovely, but it is the visual images that Oliver’s descriptions create that are so captivating. Oliver’s breathtaking descriptions and prose really bring the story to life in the reader’s mind. There were moments when Oliver’s descriptions seemed to just wrap themselves around me, immersing me into this world where the physical and emotional aspects became so tangible and real that I felt as if I were with Po and Bundle on the Other Side musing about the complexities of life or as if I were trapped with Liesl and Will in a burning house, scared and anxious. There is true magic in this book and Lauren Oliver is an enchanting word weaver. I finished Liesl and Po with the biggest smile on my face and the best feeling in my heart. It’s definitely the kind of story that stays with you for a long time and you just feel better for having read it. I would highly recommend this book for younger and older readers alike. When this book comes out, go read it, then pass it along to a friend and insist they read it too.

Currently reading

Kendare Blake
Blue Moon
James Ponti
Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter
Simon Mayo
The Real Boy
Erin Mcguire, Anne Ursu
Crest (Ondine Quartet, #3)
Emma Raveling