“Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.”
TJ Klune wrote something special. The House in the Cerulean Sea is so bursting with perfectly placed imagery, it manages to be a visual experience even though you’re reading it. While our main character, Linus, has a narrative that starts off with a tinge of sadness, the book keeps this cozy feel throughout it. There’s a dreamlike quality to Klune’s writing that entices you and pulls you along.
All the while, I had this protective feeling of Linus Baker. He’s that person you see that deserves more love than he’s receiving, the one that you want to wrap your arms around and tell them that YOU see them and appreciate them. I think Klune can strike this chord in most of us, there’s often going to be moments in life where you feel like you’re not enough, that your light doesn’t shine brightly enough for others to see.
“Oh, there was no specific event that brought along this line of thinking. It was just that he felt… dimmer than others. Like he faded in a crystal-clear world. He wasn’t meant to be seen.”
As we follow along on Linus’s journey, I think the best way I can describe the way I felt is that I was wholly charmed. Linus is called by Extremely Upper Management to take a job of inspecting a very unusual orphanage. When he gets there, he finds that these magical, misunderstood children are impossible to be impartial to. He finds a headmaster whose methods may be unusual, but is full of compassion for these children. This is a tale about finding your place, accepting yourself and others, and creating a family.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is an extraordinary book that manages to keep a foot in reality. It seems close enough to believe but far enough to be swept away into this alternate world. Every word is calculated to add to this experience, it’s entirely immersive in a way that few novels can claim. If you’re like me, you’ll feel a sense of wonder, that enveloping feeling of coziness while reading it.
The thing is, this book could have been grim. Bleak. Kids in orphanages… a middle aged man in a dead end, corporate, soul-sucking job. Klune’s tone makes you forget that. He brings humor to the page, alternating between dry and cheery, and deals expertly with some hard topics. There’s an amazing sense of comedy threaded through this novel. We get little hints of adult humor here and there, but it is still kept wholesome enough for a younger kid to read.
“Just because you don’t experience prejudice in your everyday doesn’t stop it from existing for the rest of us.”
There’s moments of such lightheartedness amongst these funny, magical little children. Lucy is one of my favorite characters and the way Mr. Parnassus interacts with Lucy’s destructive tendencies will have a smile quirking at your lips. There’s tender moments displayed by each of these “unique” children. Unraveling who these children are is one of the most fun aspects of this book.
Klune has some amazing follow-through in this novel. I love the way he would present a topic or idea and apply it at the perfect moment later in the book. Additionally, Linus was a delight to watch grow. His perspective on the psychology of these children and relating it to his work evolves before our eyes when he’s allowed to really dig in and become a part of his work instead of a clinical bystander.
“I don’t pretend to know the minds of men… They fear what they don’t understand. And that fear turns to hate for reasons I’m sure even they can’t begin to comprehend.”
One of the things that really made my heart burst was the innocence of these kids. They know they’re different, they know people are scared of them, but they still have hope and little acts of kindness make their day. There’s such positives messages in this book. Messages about love, about social injustice, about discrimination. There’s a male/male relationship, and the author is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I couldn’t ask for more from this book.
It’s truly just a feel good, endearing read. It is the book that you NEED as a bright spot after the way the world has been lately. I don’t usually rate books on the number scale lately, except for goodreads, but this is easily a 5/5 stars.
“Regardless of what else he is, he is still a child, as they all are. And don’t all children deserve to be protected? To be loved and nurtured so that they may grow and shape the world to make it a better place?”