Told in diary form by an irresistible heroine, this playful and perceptive novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the May Bird trilogy sparkles with science, myth, magic, and the strange beauty of the everyday marvels we sometimes forget to notice.
Spirited, restless Gracie Lockwood has lived in Cliffden, Maine, her whole life. She’s a typical girl in an atypical world: one where sasquatches helped to win the Civil War, where dragons glide over Route 1 on their way south for the winter (sometimes burning down a T.J. Maxx or an Applebee’s along the way), where giants hide in caves near LA and mermaids hunt along the beaches, and where Dark Clouds come for people when they die.
To Gracie it’s all pretty ho-hum…until a Cloud comes looking for her little brother Sam, turning her small-town life upside down. Determined to protect Sam against all odds, her parents pack the family into a used Winnebago and set out on an epic search for a safe place that most people say doesn’t exist: The Extraordinary World. It’s rumored to lie at the ends of the earth, and no one has ever made it there and lived to tell the tale. To reach it, the Lockwoods will have to learn to believe in each other—and to trust that the world holds more possibilities than they’ve ever imagined.
As C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” My Diary to from the Edge of the World is certainly one of those children’s stories that can be enjoyed at any age. This novel reflects on several important topics and themes that I believe are crucial to remember at any point in one’s life.
I wondered about the word “beast.” I wondered if sometimes, the way everything looks—who’s the beast and who isn’t—depends on where you’re standing.
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know Jodi Lynn Anderson, author of Tiger Lily and The Vanishing Season, is one of my favorite authors and has shattered my heart numerous times. So despite not normally being fond of middle-grade novels, I had a feeling My Diary to the Edge of the World would be one that I love. And I did. And I also cried. Again.
One of many aspects that I appreciate about this novel is the fact that Gracie’s family was a core of the story and was—wait for it—alive. For once, the protagonist’s parents were not tragically killed off by page one. But on top of that, Gracie and each member of her family showed significant character development by the end of the novel.
“I think I felt so happy that is made me scared, too. Like that I might drop you or lose you, and never recover.”
This novel not only deals with death and the matter of accepting it, but it discusses morality and ideas, one, which I found the most fascinating, is that no matter what world you live in or what you have, we are always yearning for more. For the impossible.
Gracie lives in a world where there are dragons and mermaids and sasquatches. Although it all sounds extremely absurd, Anderson is able to incorporate these mystical elements seamlessly. But what I found interesting is how Gracie’s father was always curious of the Extraordinary World. A world without monsters and magic. A world where technology blooms and thrives. In other words, they’re talking about our world.
I found this both sad and funny, being that this, again, proves we are constantly on the search of what we do not have, rather than admiring the world we live. Of course, it is normal to strive for a better environment, but we are often caught up in things we may not be able to ever have. But also, we are too quick give up on the impossible.
“There are endless possibilities,” she said. “That makes me hopeful. It really does.”
By the end of this book, I was in tears. And not just watery eyes that I could blink away. No, I needed to crawl out of bed and grab a tissue. It was that kind of cry.
My Diary from the Edge of the World made me feel so many emotions. I felt both hopeful and happy, but also extremely heartbroken. It felt as though I was beside Gracie and her family throughout this entire journey, so for it all to be over was saddening. But the beautiful thing about this book is that I felt it was still going to live on, even after flipping the last page. And that, is a rare and beautiful thing.
If you have yet to read My Diary from the Edge of the World, I highly recommend picking it up and giving it a read. I will admit that this novel felt a bit long at times, but it was a book that I will most likely never forget, much like Tiger Lily and The Vanishing Season. So if you haven’t read those either, DO IT.
Okay, I’m done yelling about Jodi Lynn Anderson now. Until next time, my lovelies.