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Breadcrumbs Hardcover – September 27, 2011
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A stunning modern-day fairy tale from acclaimed author Anne Ursu
Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.
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It is a lovely book, with a lot of beauty, and also sly wit and reflection on fairy tales. When Hazel says her name is "Anderson", a character comments that they get a lot of those in The Woods. And the Snow Queen offers Jack some Turkish Delight and laughs at her own joke. And there are woodcutters and kindly healers and wolves and ice queens and fates, and only some of them are good and useful, even though Hazel is unfailingly polite and often kind. I liked that the magic of fairy tales did not always work perfectly for her.
Hazel is the kind of knight who would rescue a fellow knight, and I love that about her.
"He? Oh." Something passed over the woman's face.
"The princess is saving the knight, eh?"
Hazel shifted. "I guess."
"I hope the knight doesn't mind." She let out a laugh that sounded like it could cut something.
And the very ending was very much like the ending of Where The Wild Things Are, when the traveller returns home to a sign of love.
Another reviewer commented on the problematic way the author deals with mental health. Sometimes it's really interesting and descriptive, like describing a depressed woman as "looking like someone had severed her daemon". And sometimes it's casually judgemental and cruel. There are a lot of hard things in the real world of this book. Hazel's parents are recently divorced, and Hazel is an adoptee with no grounding or understanding of her birth family. Jack has his own problems, too. But that is not the core of Jack-and-Hazel. They are a pair, not in a romantic sense, but in a best-friends sense.
The art included was well-calculated to display well on Kindle screens, as it is just simple pencil drawings, but with a lot of emotional depth.
Read if: You want more immediate cultural touchstones than Among Others had. You love fairy tale twistings. You want the lady knight to be the hero.
Skip if: You don't read mid-grade books. You have trouble with slighting descriptions of mental illness.
A Long; Long Sleep (0)
The other main problem is the genre hiccup. As some other reviewers have noted, the first part of the book is a sweet, realistic fiction coming of age story. Then, all of a sudden, a random, unexplained, trouble making creature breaks a mirror which falls to Earth changing things in a dark and highly random way. What follows is a series of fantasy riffs which don't really hang together as a coherent story. Characters are introduced and dropped without a strong through line.
I also take issue with the ending. I don't like it when everything is tied up in a painfully neat bow, but I appreciate some resolution. I got to the end of the book, and kept flipping pages thinking, Really? This is where you're going to stop?
Overall, this would be a good snow-day read for a well versed fantasy/sci-fi fan who doesn't mind a lack of closure.
Most recent customer reviews
- constant fidgeting, often without...Read more
The combination of Hans Anderson’s “The snow Queen” and the brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” would have been an...Read more
This book has two halves.
The first half is about a depressed little girl who struggles to like anything in life except her friend Jack who ends...Read more