Review: Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Title: Nora & Kettle

Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?
 
Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to―the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”―things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.
 
Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora―the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.
 
For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief-stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.
 
In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.
 

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

Review:

Nora & Kettle is by far the most original novel that I have read in 2016.  Even though it has been publicized as a new take on Peter Pan, it was so much more than that and its story line is one that is important and rarely seen in literature.  Nora & Kettle is unapologetic and explores child abuse as well as the Japanese internment camps that are so often forgotten in our history.  Lauren Nicolle Taylor doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and her novel is of vital importance in young adult literature today.

In his eyes are the reflections of the beating I didn’t know how to stop, and even though my heart remembers, the rest of me would like to forget.  

Nora & Kettle is written in chapters alternating between the title characters as they struggle to survive and eventually cross each others’ paths.  Nora suffers physical abuse at the hand of her father, while Kettle is a young Japanese orphan who was cast out of an orphanage due to his heritage during World War II.  Their story reflects how their lives have always run right along each other until tragedy captures both of them and they crash into one another by an act of fate.

My father watches me, his eyes crinkling in disgust with every movement.  I have his ears, nose, and hair…and he can’t stand it.  I wish I could scrub out my face and start again.  Not because it would protect me, but because it would mean I wouldn’t see him in my reflection.

Taylor is a truly poetic author.  She doesn’t over explain sections of her plot or characters, but she adds in beautiful lines of literature that can sum up an entire scene in one sentence.  I found myself awestruck at Taylor’s words, and her artistry filled my veins with a warmth that I find hard to find in today’s young adult literature.  Her novel is one that I believe everyone needs to read – girls, boys, men, women – whoever you are, your life will be better after reading this novel.

His eyes are intense.  Dark.  They look like they’ve seen things I don’t want to know about.

As I said in the beginning, this novel is so much more than just a re-imagining of Peter Pan.  It is sure to make us all see beyond the smokescreen that has prevented us from our painful past for years and years.

 

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