A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty. Published by Pan Macmillan 2012.
Awesome! With a crazy premise and flawed, weird characters, I liked this book because it had a) beautiful worldbuilding b)awesome, believable characters and c) colourful (more explanation later)
Cambridge. and Cello.
I guess my main qualms with this book were that some things seemed totally random. Like, if something is going to be a major part of the plot, can you tell me first. and the setup took quite a while. The explanations didn’t seem entirely sensible.
So these were the settings of this book. I have got to say, though, that if you are going to call a place Cello, cellos need to be involved somehow. I may be a violist, but cellos are awesome and beautiful, and if they have a kingdom, then someone needs to play them. Cello was a cool setting though. It is a lot like Earth, but smaller, and it has similar levels of technology. What I loved about the worldbuilding in this book was that the characters thought that it was so ordinary, so it was built on in layers. And it was so easy to accept and understand what was happening, the way it was easily revealed.
Cambridge didn’t need so much worldbuilding, but the homeschooling and different locations were well known, and that was cool, because i’ve actually been there. They totally should have mentioned the nailess bridge that Isaac Newton built though. I felt like I was actually in England. Jaclyn Moriarty is a master at showing, not telling, and I fell into the worlds she created through the little details-slumped seats, messy kitchens, the porters lodge.
Elliot and Madeleine are our main characters. But even the side characters aren’t one dimensional. One glimpse of Belle’s mother, and I understand her much better. Kala, Chakiki, Holly, Madelienes dad, Cody- through little details we get to know them better, and that makes the storyline so much richer. Even the sheriffs are characterized and understood.
Madeliene used to be rich, but she ran away and her mother came with her, with only a sewing machine. Now she, and her friends Belle and Jack (Giacomo) homeschool with different Cambridgian personalities- the computer guy downstairs, the porter (Jacks grandfather) the microbiologist who cleans rooms, and so on. She is fourteen, and is poor and doesn’t quite know where she fits in, and sort of likes Jack, and wants to return to her old life, but doesn’t know how. One day she spots a letter under a parking meter and writes back. We get to know Madeliene mostly through these letters, as she isn’t afraid to be honest with someone who is essentially imaginary.
Elliots father went missing a year ago. Though popular, with lots of friends (and a girlfriend) and a mother, he has continually been going on dangerous missions to try and find him for the last year. His town, Bonfire, is slowly dying- crops are failing- but he isn’t scared of the letters emerging through a crack in the worlds, who don’t believe he’s real, but listen anyway. The letters provide an escape for both Madeleine and Elliot, and help them in practical ways as well as not.
This book is vivacious. Its vibrant settings bounce of the page. It is unrelentingly original, and I loved the Butterfly Child. It has important themes about friendship, and honesty, imagination and belief. It was totally worth buying. I loved the idea of corporeal colours and their effects, anda crack between worlds, and the power of different people to change themselves.
Totally going to read the sequel!