"It snowed right before Jack stopped talking to Hazel, fluffy white flakes big enough to show their crystal architecture, like perfect geometric poems. It was the sort of snow that transforms the world around it into a different kind of place. You know what it's like--when you wake up to find everything white and soft and quiet, when you run outside and your breath suddenly appears before you in a smoky poof, when you wonder for a moment if the world in which you woke up is not the same one that you went to bed in the night before. Things like that happen, at least in the stories you read. It was the sort of snowfall that, if there were any magic to be had in the world, would make it come out." --pg. 1
I knew from the first sentence that I was going to love the writing style of this book, and I did. It is absolutely beautifully written. I'm not going to tell you too much about the story, just show you all of the quotes I have bookmarked. Starting with why Hazel and Jack are best friends:
"Jack was the only person she knew with an imagination, at least a real one. The only tea parties he'd have were ones in Wonderland, or the Arctic, or the darkest reaches of space. He was the only person who saw things for what they could be instead of just what they were. He saw what lived beyond the edges of the things your eyes took in. And though they eventually grew out of Wonderland Arctic space-people tea parties, that essebtial thing remained the same. Hazel fit with Jack." --pg. 20-21
"Jack was her best friend. And there was a time when everyone understood that, but they didn't anymore, because apparently when you get to a certain age you're just supposed to wake up one morning and not want to be friends with your best friend anymore, just because he's a boy and you don't have a messenger bag." --pg. 23-24
"Hazel knew her mother really meant 'I hope there is something you were dying to do at school today, that you are learning to love it there, and if you are not learning to love it there, can you please try harder?' Because her mom seemed to think it was the sort of thing Hazel could choose to do, like she could choose to make herself fit when she was so clearly shaped so wrong." --pg. 37
"Hazel understood. Being grown up meant doing what grown-ups wanted you to do. It meant sacrificing your imagination for rules. It meant sitting quietly in your desk chair while your best friend was helicoptered off for emergency eye surgery. It meant letting people say whatever they wanted to you." --pg. 62
"Now, the world is more than it seems to be. You know this, of course, because you read stories. You understand that there is the surface and then there are the things that glimmer and shift underneath it. And you know that not everyone believes those things, that there are people--a great many people--who believe the world cannot be any more than what they can see with their eyes.
But we know better." --pg. 68
Those are all passages that I found particularly inspiring, and now I shall show you the part that made me cry:
"When Hazel walked in the house, her mom was sitting at the desk. She smiled when she saw her daughter. 'Oh, honey, I just--'
And Hazel started to cry.
'What's wrong? Hazel, sweetie--'
Her mother's face looked stricken, as if seeing her daughter this way was the worst thing that could possibly happen, and Hazel could do nothing but tell her the truth.
'Jack isn't talking to me,' she said." --pg. 85
I think Anne Ursu is an excellent children's writer; and she's really good at writing from the perspective of an eleven year old! Oh, here's another one I had bookmarked:
"Hazel blinked. It occured to her that Makaela was being nice to her. She did not know how to react, for when your heart has been poisoned and someone picks a dandelion for you--because it is bright and yellow and you seem like you could use something like that--all you can do is contemplate the funny ways of weeds." --pg. 119
One thing that was especially enjoyable about this book was the frequent references to popular children's stories--references to Hogwarts, Wonderland, "The Golden Compass", hobbits, "A Wrinkle In Time", "Coraline", Narnia, flying monkeys, etc. It was quaint.
Overall, I found the characters adorable and the story exqusite--especially the parts set in the real world, for whatever reason (yeah I didn't have any bookmarks in the adventure part, not because it wasn't good, but it just didn't speak to me the way the above quotes did). It was joyful and sad and wonderful. On that note, I leave you with this passage from the last page:
"Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack and he got lost in the woods. His best friend went after him. Along the way, she had many adventures. She met woodsmen, witches, and wolves. She found her friend in the thrall of a queen who had a palace of ice and a heart to match. She rescued him with the help of a magical object. And they returned home, together, and they lived on, somehow, ever after." --Anne Ursu, "Breadcrumbs", pg. 312