Monday, August 10, 2015

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

"What does it feel like to be 
ready and willing 
to take on an ocean like this 
only to be told that you're 
not allowed to leave dry land?"

I picked up this book because I was captivated by the cover, but I bought it because the main character happens to share my name.

Second Star is a modern-day retelling of Peter Pan, with Wendy as the narrator. Either I've been consistently picking great books lately or my rating standards have relaxed, because I gave this book another 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I choose to believe it's the former. This was one of those amazingly written novels where there's nothing weird or distracting with the author's style, so you're simply able to focus on the story she's telling.

I want to be careful with this write-up, because I don't want to spoil anything. I loved this book so much because it was unexpected, and I wouldn't want to ruin that for anyone.

Perhaps what is most enchanting about this book is the way that it obviously embraces the story of Peter Pan without simply copying it. This book would be marvelous even if there were no Wendy, Pete, or Belle. It's a great story in its own right. It has a lot to say about grieving and growing. It teaches wonderful lessons about the delicate transition between childhood and adulthood, about how sometimes the only thing we have to keep us going is hope. Faith. Belief. Whatever word you want to attach to those times when everything around us seems to be shouting, "NO," but something deep within us quietly but consistently breathes, "yes."

The book ends in a less-than-final manner, but I think that's okay. I think the very nature of this book requires imagination and an acceptance of the unknown. And the surfing theme throughout the book teaches great lessons about doing hard things:

[O]nce you make a decision to take a wave, you shouldn't change your mind. No matter how big or how small the wave, once you paddle into it, the surest way to get yourself pummeled is to try to change direction instead of riding it out.

I really loved this book. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read who needs reminded that things, people, and events aren't always what they seem. And sometimes allowing a little magic into your life is exactly what you need.

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