To say this novel is brilliant feels to light-handed a compliment compared to how well crafted the story was written. The author, Lauren Nicolle Taylor, did a masterful job entwining history with an old childhood tale while still hitting on key subjects that translate to contemporary issues a reader can easily understand or relate too. Both lead characters are the epitome of resilience and after reading this novel I definitely can't wait for more of Nora & Kettle.
Always looking to the night sky Nora Deere, is not afraid of the dark but is afraid of what comes in the dawn. The terror Nora feels doesn't come in her dreams, but is a person in her waking hours who should be loving and protecting of her. So when the unthinkable happens and the one person that kept most of the danger at bay dies, Nora knows her life will only be harder to endure. The only saving grace for Nora is her little sister Frankie, whom Nora continually sacrifices herself for in order to keep her out of their abusers path. However, one punishment was too much and when trying to escape Nora ends up finding herself alone and running from all she knew. Kettle has been running his whole life, never having a place to call home. When Kettle was taken to a Japanese internment camp as a child and given a pseudo family, but when his adopted mother died and the war finished, his adopted brother Kin and him decide to run from the soldiers during reassignment. Being on their own Kettle and Kin find their own way on the streets while hiding from the authorities. The brothers take in other street kids to form a family of sorts who help one another in a world that has forgotten or been cruel to them. So when Kettle stumbles upon Nora who seems like any other helpless street kid abused by the world, he offers her his help. The connection these two form will have lasting effects on each other both ideologically and emotionally; especially when they choose to team up and confront the demons that plague them.
Overall, amazing read! It's no secret that I love history so any novel with the purpose of expounding on a historical moment I'm definitely interested in reading. Having the characters go through so much set in America post World War 2 is a hard setting to write in, but this author does it wonderfully. Nora's life is heartbreaking to read about, but I absolutely love her character and strength. So much growth occurs for Nora that you go through all her moments with a hope that in the end she gets a HEA, because she deserves some happiness after all she has endured. Ugh, I honestly cried more than once reading Nora's chapters and her words are tragically poetic. Then there is Kettle who is absolutely the hero. Yes, Kettle too is faced with problems, but he is definitely the hero and glue to the group of lost children. Kettle is in selfless and caring which are welcoming traits for Nora to find in a person after surviving hell at home. Now one last thing, I absolutely loved the dual perspective from Kettle and Nora, it completely helped bind me to them on a emotional level as their lives developed and turned until they collided. So if you are looking for a story about an abused girl lost emotionally finding a boy hiding and trying to survive in the world, who form a bond and try to fly, then this novel is definitely worth a read.