April 7, 2014

Breadcrumbs - by Ann Ursu

Whoa.  This is not your average middle grade fantasy novel, but it is definitely worth reading.

11-year-old Hazel is a pretty normal fifth-grader: Frustrated with her parents, having friendship trouble, and dreading the bus ride to school. That said, she's pretty extraordinary as well, though it takes the other characters and the reader some time to realize it.  Could it be her obsession with fantasy stories, from Harry Potter to The Chronicles of Narnia? Maybe the fact that her lone friend is her next-door neighbor, who happens to be a boy?  Or could it possibly be that when one day her best friend Jack suddenly has an abrupt personality shift and no only stops talking to her, but goes and disappears mysteriously, she is the only one with the courage to go after him?  Yeah, let's go with that one.

The incredible thing about this book is the pacing and the gradual shift from realistic fiction to fantasy.  We begin in the suburban school days of a Midwestern winter, but we end up in a fantastical forest, where anything is possible.  Throughout, it is all Hazel can do, and the reader can hardly believe she pulls it off, to keep her head and follow her heart.

Not your average book at all, and so much the better for that.

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