96 points, 5 STARS!
Under certain conditions, childrens can slip through the cracks of the world, through the shadows and through doorways into lands that are at once magical and fearful. Nancy is one such child, went away and now is back. Not understood by her parents, Nancy is sent to Miss Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, where everyone just wants to go home.
Wayward Children is a series of novellas. Shorter works of fiction aren’t typically my thing, because they always leave me wanting more. That is still the case with Every Heart a Doorway. I would have loved an entire novel, but this works in novella format as well. I just love the world this introduces us to.
In Every Heart a Doorway, we meet Miss Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. It is a place for kids who went away and came back. It is a place for kids who were changed by their experience. Kids who want to go back to where they left to. They want to go home. Everything is about the idea of home. It is heartbreaking, dealing with so many kids who are so lost, even though they are now “found”. The kids weren’t lost to themselves, they were home. Everyone wants to go home, but everyone there knows how dim their chances really are to getting back. I really want to stress that these are kids who lost the place they knew they belonged. It makes it that much more heartbreaking.
Our lead character is Nancy. She hates being in a world that is so alive with motion. She yearns to be still. She is scared and confused, she doesn’t understand why she was returned to where she came from. She was already sure! She didn’t need to come back to find out how much she wanted to stay, she already knew. Now Nancy is hurt and angry that she is stuck back on Earth, away from her home, with a bunch of people who don’t understand her.
And Miss Eleanor’s is supposed to be a place where every child lost and yearning for home again is supposed to feel understood. Every child is supposed to know that, while they may not belong, they can at least not belong together. Yet Nancy is so different from the rest. They’re all bubbly, and she just wants to be still.
And then the murders start, and the other kids are bothered by her even more. And Nancy is one of the only children who is willing to face the bodies of those who are murdered. She comes from a land of the dead, afterall. Death doesn’t bother her, only the possibility of having to stay here on Earth. But who is doing the killing, anyway? Why are they mutilating the bodies? What could they possibly hope to achieve?
And why is it happening at Miss Eleanor’s school for Wayward Children?
This is a great start to the series, an amazing introduction to the world we are about to live in. Every Heart a Doorway was the closest to my doorway, Nancy is the closest we’re likely to come to me. This novella speaks to me on so many levels.