“Change often starts with the smallest of whispers.”
How many books have been written proclaiming that different doesn’t mean wrong? Countless. And yet that message is still just as desperately needed, if not moreso, than it’s every been. We live in a world divided, a world in which diversity is still viewed with suspicion by many fronts. But though we still have a long way to go, inclusion and acceptance of those different than ourselves has come a long way over the course of the past century. While it may seem as though we’ve taken a step back in recent years, we’ve actually come so far that we’re better able to recognize our failings than ever before. Just as waking a sleeping limb is painful but necessary in order for our body to properly function, being able to see the areas in which we’re lacking is painful but necessary if we want to keep moving forward into a world in which people are valued for their souls and dreams instead of cast out for being different. After all, aren’t our differences what make us beautiful? The world would be a boring place if we were all carbon copies of one another. I for one am thankful to live in a world in which uniqueness abounds.
“Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as your remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.”
The House in the Cerulean Sea is, at its core, a story embracing diversity and found families. The eponymous house is actually an isolated orphanage for extremely unusual magical children. Linus Baker, our perspective character, is a social worker sent to observe the children and their caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, for an entire month. Though he was incredibly reluctant to take the assignment, he finds his life changed by the children, and the island, and Arthur. Through his interactions with this motley crew, Linus learns what it means to be a true family, and that being related by blood is the least important thing in the world when it comes to forming your own. He learns to deeply value these children in all their weirdness, and to love the very things that make them so different. He sees firsthand how heartbreaking and ignorant and hateful prejudice is, as well as how easily children can bound back from it when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and valued.
“Your voice is a weapon. Never forget that.”
I loved the premise of this book, and the message it proclaimed. The synopsis and the cover art promised something delightful and charming, and it delivered. Even the tone of the storytelling was whimsical, reminding me a bit of Good Omens. The only reason I couldn’t quite love this book as fiercely as I had hoped was that it had a tendency to cross the line from charming into precious. While I am all for cute and sweet, when not properly balanced in a story I can find them overwhelming. And not in a good way. There were parts that felt so cloyingly sweet that reading them almost made my teeth ache. But that’s an incredibly subjective issue, one that I’m sure will not be present for most other readers.
“Sometimes our prejudices color our thoughts when we least expect them to. If we can recognize that, and learn from it, we can become better people.”
This book was such a delightful presentation of the importance of embracing your own weirdness and the weirdness of those you love. It’s all about loving yourself, and not trying to squeeze yourself into a mold that would make you more palatable to the world at large. It’s about seeing others for who the really are, and loving everything about them. It’s about what makes a house a home, and what makes a group a true family. It’s about acceptance and kindness and having the bravery to stand up for those who find themselves looked down on by the world. The House in the Cerulean Sea is a truly lovely story that feels incredibly timely. The world could use some loveliness.
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