First off: I want to thank everyone for their comments on last week's blog entry. I've thought for a long time that the book I'm working on was the sort of thing no one would want to read and it would never sell, but y'all have convinced me I was wrong on that first point. ^_^ And that gives me hope for the second one as well. ...which I'll worry about long after I've finished the damn thing (current word count: 71239), I swear.
Now, on to the important stuff.
It's not often that I love a book and think everyone I know should read it before I'm two chapters in. Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway is one of those rare books. This story got a hold of me and pulled me along right from the start, and for different reasons than the usual.
It wasn't that I wanted to live in this story, or to know the characters, or to experience all that they did. It was that I felt like I already had.
Every Heart a Doorway has a simple yet elegant concept. It's about a home for children who've been through doorways, gone to fantasy worlds, and returned to our world, to friends and family who thought they were kidnapped or dead or worse, and who now have to learn to live in this world again, where nothing seems to work right and everyone thinks they're crazy for talking about what they've experienced. It's the heartbreaking aftermath of every portal fantasy where the main character goes home at the end.
I also can't help but wonder if it was inspired by this XKCD comic, but that's just me.
Most of the book's characters either are or appear young, and we get to see just how much going to all their different worlds has affected them. There's a kind of beauty and sadness to everyone we meet and to all their stories, since all these people who went to all these different places want the same thing: to find their doorway again. To go back. The book truly captures that longing, and the difficulties of living in a world that just plain doesn't feel like home anymore.
There is a plot, and it's a fairly simple one; I figured it out partway through, and if I can figure out a book's plot while I'm reading it, then odds are good most anyone can. But I did not care one bit that I knew what was going to happen. I was too caught up in how the book felt to stop reading, and I was genuinely sad when it ended.
This is a short book, but it doesn't feel like it's too short. It's exactly as long as it needs to be.
I know I'm projecting here, but I can't help feeling like this is a book for we writers. It's for a lot of people, yes - it's for anyone who's ever felt out of place. But it really feels like it's especially for us. We live in our own worlds all the time, perhaps more than any other sort of artists, and that can make it incredibly hard to deal with the real world sometimes. This book was a beautiful escape into a world where people understood, even if their experiences weren't the same.
This book gets us. Which is why I think everyone should read it.