Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is an Urban Fantasy based off of the famous stories of Hans Christian Anderson. A young woman named Hazel goes on a journey into a forest where everything is magical and nothing is pleasant like the settings of her favorite books.

The reason Hazel enters the woods is friendship. A childhood friend, named Jack, is taken by the Ice Queen after his heart becomes hard. Both Jack and Hazel are beginning to change from children to young adults. Instead of making up baseball stats for Jack’s favorite superheroes or playing Hazel’s make believe games they drift in opposite directions. All of the adults state that this is a part of growing up and entering middle school. Hazel senses something is wrong with Jack and knows in her heart that the cause is supernatural.

There are really two stories going on about one specific journey. Hazel is becoming her own person and slowly developing an independent identity. She must shed her old image to do it. Jack has always been her friend and now is Hazel’s chance to save him. As Hazel becomes more confident, she passes the tests of people who have changed into various twisted characters from classic fairy tales. The people from our world who travel into the enchanted forest change into woodsmen, ballerinas, witches and matchstick girls. Hazel is deciding whether or not she should be her own person, stay the same or conform to society’s expectations and become something she is not; not only in the woods but also at her new school.

For readers who are not familiar with the works of Hans Christian Anderson, his works reflect a specific ideology that is unique to his time period and culture. Also, it can be extremely violent and depressing. This book teaches the lesson that life can be hard and cruel even if magic is real.

The characters in the book are much more layered and complex than I can convey in a short review. This book is challenging and a great focal point to have a real discussion with children, students or book club members. It shows the influence stories have on people forever. Every chapter is full of lush and unique description of snow and it makes Breadcrumbs a perfect end- of- winter read. Hiding under a warm blanket with a cup of cocoa, while reading Breadcrumbs, is recommended.

No comments: