One nice thing about having a small, underused library system where we now live: popular books are either right on the shelves, or have a very short wait time. I have seen this book reviewed on many blogs lately, so the cover was fresh on my mind when I spotted it at our weekly trip to the library last week. (A quick word about the cover = ick. Sorry, just my personal opinion, but it’s really not my favorite. Considering how fun and imaginative the book itself is, I feel the cover could have done it a little more justice.)
Into the Wild is about Julie Marchen, a seemingly ordinary girl, until you consider that her last name means “fairytale” in German, and , oh, her mother is Rapunzel. Julie and her mother (“Zel”) live in a suburban Massachusetts town, trying to blend in, even as they have 7 dwarves over for dinner, serve clientel like Goldilocks (now “Goldie”) in Zel’s hair salon, and try to contain remnants of The Wild (the magical force that imprisons all fairytale creatures into their never-ending stories) under Julie’s bed. Five hundred years ago, Rapunzel lead the battle to defeat The Wild, so the fairyland denizens could be free to decide their own fate, to live their own stories. Something goes horribly wrong, though, and The Wild is freed from Julie’s room and grows to absorb the town and reclaim its former inhabitants.
I love Julie as the heroin of this story – she has a great mix of self-doubt, courage, and resourcefulness. I enjoy the dynamics between mothers and daughters in the story, as we see Rapunzel with her once evil adoptive mother, and Julie try to get her own mother to listen to and understand her. Durst made inventive use of familiar fairytale characters and gave them a modern-day spin. Finally, I think there is a great message in this book, especially for younger readers: a great story awaits you, if you’re brave enough to write it.
*Disclosure: Amazon affiliate link included.