A mirror looking back at us with a kinder, hopeful light. This feels like the most relevant of fairy tales and the kind of story I'd love to hear told around the coffee table on a lazy afternoon.
Sense of storytelling: ★★★★★
What does it mean to be a neighbor?
This story is about an Ogress. (But maybe she's not who you think she is.)
This story is about a Dragon. (And maybe he's exactly who you think he is.)
This story is also about a town fallen on hard times, where trust and kindness are steadily withering away with each hotter season, and the town's livelihood is dying a slow death as a result.
This story is also about a group of orphans, who are able to look at the world with the clear-eyed gaze that only the most honest of children can use.
The Ogress and the Orphans is a parable for our times—as lofty as that sounds. Timely, yet timeless. About us and yet not about us. For us adults reading this, this story is going to be a lancing of the boil (whether you're ready for it or feel that way is up to you, but it definitely was such for me).
We've experienced so much ugly in these past few years, and our souls are tired. We wonder if there is any hope for the younger generations in this reality where facts are apparently subjective and the concept of kindness toward those around you seems like an alien concept. What hope can we have when those in power try harder and harder to focus a polarity in the culture in order to inflate their egos and bank vaults? How can we record these thoughts and spit them back as something useful and fostering of growth?
Kelly Barnhill's Ogress and the Orphans is one such answer. Barnhill wrote this novel during the last few years and that shows—if you're an American, you can see the players behind their fairy tales masks. Her thesis question of "What is a neighbor?" is clearly playing with concepts that have been bullied and broken and abused in the political and social arena for years now. But even for the rest of us, and especially for the children, this fable exists to grow love and foster kindness.
I normally read harsher things, darker things, so maybe my review will be an odd duck for those who follow me for those other books. However, despite this novel's length—it was a bit long, and for an adult it will feel like something shorter that was drawn out for younger minds--I think it's worth a try.
Especially if you're in need of something light amidst all of this darkness.
Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.