One Christmas, my great-grandmother gave me a Reader’s Digest collection: The World’s Best Fairy Tales. It was a thick, hefty little book. The hardback cover was glossy robin’s egg blue, and the pages had gilt edges. I thought it was beautiful, but I felt a bit old for fairy tales. (I don’t feel that way now.) I determined that I would read them anyway, and I discovered for the first time the difference between the Disney version of a fairy tale and the original. It was also the first time I preferred the written story over the movie. And when I started to critique film adaptations of books.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie is an original story, not a folk tale passed down through generations until the Grimm brothers or Hans Christian Andersen wrote it down. Still it’s subject to the same treatment in retellings. When I decided to read the novel aloud to my kids, I wasn’t expecting the Disney version. I knew better than that. But I had no clue how brutal the book really is (there are detailed reviews online if you’re curious). But, as with other books of this type, I found that my kids totally missed those details. Actually, they had trouble even following the plot, but still, the book was enjoyable because of the way it appeals to imagination. This is what I love about reading fantasy. And it’s why I was interested in reading Dust (Heirs of Neverland #1) by Kara Swanson.
I have often mentioned here how much I love fiction and why. This week, as I was reading How to Read a Book: the Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading, by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, my feelings for fiction were totally affirmed. They state: “One reason why fiction is a human necessity is that it satisfies many unconscious as well as conscious needs. It would be important if it only touched the conscious mind, as expository writing does. But fiction is important, too, because it also touches the unconscious.”
In Dust, Claire’s missing twin, Connor, seems to have clung to the book Peter Pan simply because “fiction is a human necessity.” However, there’s an added draw to the book for him. Peter Pan is real and visited him. Claire believes it was all pretend, though she doesn’t deny that Connor had a real friend named Peter.
Things I’m wondering: The dust that forms on Claire’s skin must be related to Neverland in some way, right? She and Connor are orphans – what happened to their birth parents? Did Peter have anything to do with them being separated from their family? Who is N? Is James Hocken really Captain Hook? I’m pretty sure he is… Was there really an adoptive family in London or was it all a ruse? Did Miss Trevor conspire to deliver Connor to Hocken? What happened to her?
One of my favorite parts of the book so far has been Claire’s relocation to London. There were so many things I related to there! Regarding the long haul flight, she said, “Despite the flight taking ten hours, it’s basically a loner’s paradise.” I have taken transatlantic flights by myself a few times, I am kind of a loner, and I agree! She described landing in a new country, where she would have to learn how to live, as well as accomplish the task she went there to do. “A new country, practically a new world, filled with so many question marks that, for a moment, a lightning spike of panic shoots through me.” And finally, this gem about spending money in an unfamiliar currency: “Also, doing math for everything you buy is way less fun than it sounds.” And it does not sound very fun at all.
Join me in the comments! What questions are you hoping to find answers to in the next chapters of Dust? What do you think of Hocken, N, or Miss Trevor? Share a favorite quote or whatever struck you as interesting, relatable, or wonderful.
Here’s the reading schedule for the rest of the month:
June 8: Ch 10-18
June 15: Ch 19-28
June 22: Ch 29-38
June 29: Sabbath Week at VA so no Book Club