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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Title: Breadcrumbs

Author: Anne Ursu

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Pages: 313

Release Date: 7/27/11

Reviewed by Sabrina

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

My Thoughts

I don't often read a lot of Middle Grade novels but this one had caught my eye for weeks. I finally got myself to buy the book. First thing I have to say about it? I don't think that the intended age group will exactly want to read this one.

The first half of the story deals with Hazel's problems in the real world. This would have to be the most depressing part of the novel. Hazel goes through issues such as not fitting in and her parent's divorce. Her friendship with Jack becomes strained as his friends try to separate them. Everything becomes different when the children around her begin to change into teenagers. In the second half, Jack changes when a magical glass shard gets caught in his eye. When he's out alone in the snow, the Snow Queen becomes interested in him and persuades him to come with her.

I did not expect to be so wowed by Breadcrumbs. The writing is beautiful and the atmosphere and the mood of the novel is slow, majestic and dreamlike. I felt like I was with Hazel out in the woods, hearing the snow crunch under my shoes and feeling the bitter cold air against my skin. Anne Ursu also has an amazing talent of conveying emotions to the reader. I cried when Hazel had lost her friend, Jack, or when she tried so hard to fit in but didn't quite cut it.

Hazel is a smart, imaginative young girl. I loved reading about her worries and decisions. She's wonderful heroine that I would love to see more often in other works. Her journey through the forest makes her learn the harsh facts about both the world of the woods and the wold where she had come from.

The ending was left with many loose-ends, but it was a reasonable, almost perfect ending for the story. That doesn't mean that I liked it though.

Overall, Breadcrumbs is a great book that might work well for those who are fans of contemporary or fantasy.

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