Hazel and Jack have always been best friends, through thick and thin. They both have wild imaginations that allow them to create fantastical stories together about superheroes and supervillains with supernatural powers. They are now eleven and they are being pulled in different directions. Hazel’s mother thinks female friends are more appropriate companions for Hazel and Jack’s friends at school think he should hang out with them and exclude Hazel. Jack becomes distant and cold, leaving Hazel alone at school and at home. Then one day, Jack is gone. His parents claim he is caring for an ailing old relative, but Hazel knows better. She ventures into the forest and goes on an adventure filled with odd characters and perilous situations. Can she survive and save her best friend? Will he even want to be saved?
Anne Ursu is a wonderful writer that captures the eleven year old experience, between childhood and teenage years. Changes abound because of Hazel’s age. Magic and imagination games become childish and targets of ridicule. She’s expected to spend more time with girls and develop more gender appropriate interests. These expectations come not only from her parents, but also from her classmates. When she was forced to spend time with other people, she had fun, but seemed scared to make new friends. She also felt that she was betraying Jack, her best and only friend. It comes from resisting change and not wanting to realize that people change over time. When Jack suddenly turns on her, she feels hurt and alone and she doesn’t know what she did. At any stage in life, relationships can suddenly change and people can grow apart without any real fault on either side. I think anyone can relate to the relationship aspects of the book because everyone suffers from societal expectations and changing friendships.
Breadcrumbs is like reading two separate books. The first half that takes place in the normal world is infused with Hazel’s imagination and sense of humor. She describes things in hilarious ways that I wouldn’t even think of and she’s constantly referencing fantasy books, such as Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Coraline. She uses her interest in fantasy to color and explain the world around her and its harsh realities. When she ventured in to the forest, the tone changed considerably. The narrative takes on a dark tone, leaving the humor behind. When read in fairy tales, some of the situations are interesting and beautiful, but when you are put into them, they become your harsh reality. The fairy tales encountered by Hazel are all based on Hans Christian Andersen’s art tales with a little twist. These tales aren’t about princesses or magical kisses, but about little match girls left to die out in the snow and magic shoes that cause the wearer to dance to death. I really liked that Anne Ursu never talked down to her readers and didn’t sugar coat the harsh realities in and out of the fairy tale world. Even if Hazel saved Jack, she may still have lost him as a friend.
Breadcrumbs is an excellent book about childhood that both children and adults can enjoy. I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, fairy tales, and is still young at heart.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins
|Click the button to be taken to the|
Fairy Tale Fortnight Main Page & Schedule
(button image via)