Title: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Author: Claire Legrand
Publishing Information: August 28, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror
Series Information: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 343 pages
Source: Purchased for my personal library
Recommended For: Reders looking for a book that doesn’t shy away from the dark and rough patches of growing up. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Adam Gidwitz, and Tim Burton.
One of the things that stuck out to me while reading The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls was the way in which Claire Legrand doesn’t shy away from the so called “dark” elements. In fact, those were my favorite parts of the novel. Legrand writes a story about a very clever and strong girl. She writes a story about the importance of learning that it’s what inside that counts and ugliness can come from within. Most importantly, she writes a story about friendship, and the importance of never giving up. With that in mind, for this month’s On the Same Page post, I am going to focus on themes in The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls that are also found in some other excellent middle grade novels so you can add some awesome read-alikes to your radar!
After you take a peek at what I have below, make sure to head over to Brittany’s blog to see the Pinterest board that she made for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, and Amy’s post on the fantastic friendship found between Victoria and Lawrence!
Friendship: It takes Victoria some time to realize that Lawrence is not just a project for her to focus on, but a very important person in her life. Once she comes to terms with the fact that she wants to be around Lawrence and enjoys his company she does everything in her power to assure that things are set right between them. The friendship between Victoria and Lawrence reminded me a bit of the friendship between Hazel and Jack from Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs and Red and Rump from Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff.
Coming of Age: Victoria does a lot of growing up throughout The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, she starts out as a very selfish girl, obsessed with perfection, no matter the cost. As she starts to see the consequences of her actions she begins to grow into a much nicer individual. Her no nonsense demeanor reminded me a lot of Áine from The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill. She takes care of herself and has no time for anything that throws changes in her very special schedule. As time progresses she learns to let others in and is much happier. Like Victoria, Coraline from the novel by Neil Gaiman is unappreciative of her life and parents, when she goes into an alternate world where her other mother is much more twisted she begins to realize how important and special her family truly is.
Darkness and Death: Many believe middle grade novels to be too “young” for them. Readers assume that the content contained within these novels is below their levels of interest and therefore they let them pass them by. Let me tell you, I love middle grade novels because usually they’re even darker and more intense than the typical young adult novels that I read. As I mentioned before, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls doesn’t shy away from the darkness, and many times I felt as if I was dropped right in the middle of a Tim Burton movie, which I just adored. Claire Legrand doesn’t shy away from instilling fear in the reader, there are some gruesome parts (such as potential cannibalism) throughout the novel that reminded me of A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, amd there were significant deaths throughout which surprised me and was reminiscent of the short stories found in On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming.
Overall, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls was a novel I would recommend to readers of all ages. It left me grinning wildly at the way it played to my dark side with its descriptive nature, and it reminded me why it is important to remember that truly great novels bridge gaps between ages and genres.
On the Same Page is a feature here on Books Take You Places that I am hosting along with two of my very dear friends, Amy (Tripping Over Books) and Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide). Essentially, we will be reading one book a month together and then doing a non-traditional review such as a playlist, character analysis, and so on…To find out more about this new feature, head on over to its dedication page!