I’d seen this book in bookstores and on book fair tables for a while, but whenever I picked it up or thought about buying it, I’d end up putting it down. I just couldn’t decide if I wanted to read it or not. So when I found it in the school library before Christmas break, I grabbed it thinking it wouldn’t hurt to start it.
It took me a while to get into Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I didn’t immediately feel connected to this odd story of kids that do magical things, stories from an old grandfather that everyone thought was a little off, and pages filled with vintage pictures. I just couldn’t get a feel for it in the beginning.
But I kept on, thinking it must be good because I was starting to pay attention when people talked about it and was hearing that it was well-loved.
And then one day, it clicked: I couldn’t put it down, couldn’t believe what was happening, and couldn’t take, on the last page, when it was over.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children centers on Jacob, a sixteen-year-old only child, who has grown up hearing stories from his Jewish grandfather about the time he spent living in a children’s home during World War II. His family had sent him there for safety and, when the war was over, he didn’t have a family to return to so he came to America and started over. The stories he would tell his grandson were accompanied by pictures as proof of the wild tails about boys who were full of bees and a girl with two mouths. But as Jacob got older, he became cynical, believing more and more that these were just Photoshopped pictures his grandfather used to rationalize his made-up stories.
Soon after that, the pictures went away and Grandpa stopped sharing the stories. Years later, Jacob witnesses his grandfather’s death in the woods by, what officials declare are wild dogs, but Jacob knows is something else. This claim prompts his parents to send him to a local psychologist to help Jacob with his post-traumatic stress.
While in his recovery, the shrink suggests Jacob travel to the home where his grandfather says he lived and do some investigating. Let Jacob learn that they were just stories and it will help him recover, the doctor says.
So Jacob and his dad take off. And what Jacob learns about his grandfather, his stories, and those pictures changes everything. And now Jacob can never go back.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a historical fantasy where real world events collide with magical tales. If you love when authors take inspiration for history to help them create stories, this book is for you. It was definitely out of my normal realm of reading, but I’m so very glad I read it. At times I felt I was reading the first draft of a really good, visually stunning movie script. Not that it was rough and unedited, but that the imagery was so well-written and would play out so well on the big screen that it would be a travesty not to make it into a movie. (This coming from someone who normally hates when they turn a book into a movie…)
I didn’t realize until I neared the end that this book isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of a trilogy and the second one is already out. So I’ll be on the lookout for that one now. Because I have to know how this ends, it’s too important to leave things unsettled.
Have you read this one before? What did you think? And what about Jacob and Emma?? Did that weird you out a little bit?
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.