The House in the Cerulean Sea - a hyped book that is totally worth it!
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Award Winner: ALA Alex Award
Published 2020, 393 pages
My sister read and reviewed this book here on the blog almost exactly a year ago. She's been pushing me to read it ever since. I finally put it on my library wait list and it took over 3 months! I just finished it, and, Wow. I can see why she recommended it so strongly.
Normally, I wouldn't be drawn to a book with this cover - the cartoony style makes it seem too young or goofy for me. It was neither of those things. This book received (and still receives) a lot of hype and I don't always give in to that either. This time, the hype is totally correct.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is a charming, simply written story of magical children (a wood sprite, a wyvern, a gnome, etc) that are forced by the government into "orphanages" for their own protection. The main character, Linus, is a caseworker who visits these orphanages to ensure the kids are safe and being well cared for. Linus is, above all, a rule follower. He believes in the huge book of rules established by Extremely Upper Management and follows them to the letter. He keeps his head down, lives a quiet, dull life - every day blending boringly into the next.
"As long as you remember to be just and kind like I know you are, what other people think won't matter in the long run. Hate is loud, but I think you'll learn it's because it's only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you're not alone, you will overcome."
His life changes when his job takes him to a top secret, isolated orphanage with the most unusual and potentially dangerous kids. Donna gives a more complete run down of these 6 very special, magical children in her review, but I'll add that these kids are both delightfully funny and woefully sad. She mentions her favorite is likely Chauncey, a smooshy blob of a 'person'. Mine is probably Lucy for the incredibly clever and extremely vile curses he comes up with - what a fun character to write! Their caretaker, Arthur, is a compassionate, think-outside-the-box man who loves them, quirks and all. (There's some good child-rearing techniques here, just sayin'.)
"A home isn't always the house we live in. It's also the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You may not live on the island, but you can't tell me it's not your home.
This is a book about relationships. About found family. About acceptance and learning about things/people different from you. It's about taking a chance. It's about following your heart. Standing up for your friends. And so much more. It would be a great YA read.
Now you need to read this book to see how Linus and the kids get along and how lives change by being open to new experiences. I smiled (chuckled out loud) and I got misty eyed, and didn't want the story to end.
Are you a reader that gravitates toward the newest releases and hyped books? Or do you enjoy finding those gems of backlist books? This book is definitely a gem and if you haven't tried, may I suggest you request it from your library immediately?!