REVIEW: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Reread after Wayward Children #2: I feel like I can appreciate this book more now. Maybe because I already read it once, maybe because I know more about the worlds and the stories, maybe because I've expanded my reading and am more open, or maybe a combination of all those. It's strange and beautiful and good and sad and all those things at once.
This book was almost as good as it was weird.
It tells the story of those kids who don't feel like they belong in our world, and this time, they actually don't. A door opens to them, and if they enter, they find another world that feels like home, that is home.
"I was looking for a bucket in the cellar of our house, and I found this door I’d never seen before. When I went through, I was in a grove of pomegranate trees. I thought I’d fallen and hit my head. I kept going because … because…”
Because the air had smelled so sweet, and the sky had been black velvet, spangled with points of diamond light that didn’t flicker at all, only burned constant and cold. Because the grass had been wet with dew, and the trees had been heavy with fruit. Because she had wanted to know what was at the end of the long path between the trees, and because she hadn’t wanted to turn back before she understood everything. Because for the first time in forever, she’d felt like she was going home, and that feeling had been enough to move her feet, slowly at first, and then faster, and faster, until she had been running through the clean night air, and nothing else had mattered, or would ever matter again—
“How long were you gone?”
The question was meaningless. Nancy shook her head. “Forever. Years … I was there for years. I didn’t want to come back. Ever.”
But sometimes, they're forced back to our world, a place they no longer (if they ever did) feel comfortable in. They get labeled as crazy, spend their days looking for ways to get back, and, if they're lucky, meet others like them in Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children.
It's a unique story with a very interesting premise and a lot of layers. There are a lot of great things in this book.
The main character is asexual, and I think this might be the first time I've read a book with ace rep.
It is very diverse, with a trans side character, people with disabilities, interesting dynamics, different strengths and values. The worlds they traveled to were as complex as the people, there was a lot of variety. How you were and who you became in the world you call home also defined your values. Everyone had a different set of rules, of wrongs and rights. It was morally grey.
"For us, the places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn't have to pretend to be something we weren't. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world."
I loved the discussions about gender norms and issues, about identity. It showed our world as hard, and for some people, it really is. When you don't fit in predestined places, things go wrong. It's not home. Sometimes people don't accept who you are, not everyone understands, even if they love you.
"Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colors and kept trying to set her up on dates with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn't broken."
Talking about those things made this book interesting and impressing. Fitting for these times, and in a different format than contemporary.
There was also a surprise murder mystery.
I liked this book, but it didn't really make me happy (apart from happy with the issues it addressed). It was dark, with dark humour, and maybe a bit too strange for me, but I would recommend it. It was good.
"You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you."