BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck. I know, I know – that’s the title of Brian Selznick’s previous jaw-dropping accomplishment on the page … but that’s exactly the lingering reaction to this, his latest. The awe, the awe.

This time, Selznick’s gone hybrid. The first half, which begins in 1766, is near-wordless wonder – the only text appears in illustrations of newspaper clippings, signs, postcards, programs, and the like. The story is a stupendous multi-generational family saga about a young stowaway, a shipwreck, an island rescue, a dog, a foundling, a life in the London theater, and all the drama that unfolds … until it all just stops on January 10, 1900.

Fast forward to 1990: for the next 200 pages, Selznick relies on type – and our imaginations, well-fueled by the previous almost-400 – to continue the story. Another runaway opens the second half – a young boy who has fled his boarding school and managed to get to London by himself in search of an uncle he has never met. At 18 Folgate Street, the boy will discover the Marvels – and marvel at the marvelous indeed. There he will find that he can finish what was interrupted, by starting anew all over again.

Simply put, the book is a masterpiece – not to mention irrefutable, devoted testimony to the power of story, the creation of narrative, to save lives (hearts and minds, too). For us lucky readers, it’s a stupendous gift to pull off the shelf and revel over again and again and again.

Tidbit: Do NOT skip over Selznick’s “Afterword” … because the house is REAL.

Do NOT read the Amazon customer reviews. Shocked to see one-star comments, my curiosity sent my fingers clicking. BIG mistake. Beyond the needless spoilers, the hate – for such unnecessary reasons – is palpable. Just don’t do it.

Readers: All

Published: 2015


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