Published by Clean Teen Publishing on March 15th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Retelling, Young Adult
"What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?"
Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having "one drop of Japanese blood in them" things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.
Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.
For months, they've lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.
In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.
Set in 1953, Nora & Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, "a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.""
Wow. Just wow.
I don’t know where I got the idea that this was going to be a light-hearted read – perhaps the fact that this is a Peter Pan retelling at heart – but wow, I definitely do not regret picking it up. This book deals with heavy themes and difficult topics in such an amazing way; I read the book within a breath and a heartbeat and even after the final page did the story stay with me.
I can’t deny that the book weighed heavily on my heart from start to finish. Vivid descriptions of Nora being physically abused by her father make room for scenes of post-war racism against Asians in Kettle’s chapters. These themes are so very raw and so very real that you can’t help but be moved and root for our characters. It’s the Peter Pan elements that make the story flutter – how Kettle takes care of a nest of Lost Children and how they all worship the ground he walks on. How Nora dreams of spreading her arms and being able to fly. How she finds power and defiance with every beating.
“He may think he has me pinned. That he has clipped my wings and broken my spirit, but he’s wrong. My value is in my love for my sister. My value is growing with every day I live.”
When our two protagonists finally meet, it is heart-warming and breath-taking and you didn’t realise how much you’d been waiting for this moment until it finally happened. On the surface, Nora and Kettle seem like fire and ice – two complete opposites. It is when you dive deeper that you discover just how much these two have in common, both in mannerisms as well as experiences.
And so these two form an alliance that will eventually be a triumph for the both of them. While not without hurdles, I believe they can survive them all as long as they stick together. Do so, and they will be able to fly.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a copy