“Into The Wild” by Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Re-imagining/Re-telling
Summary from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old Julie has grown up hearing about the dangerous world of fairy tales, The Wild, from which her mother, Rapunzel, escaped.
Now The Wild wants its characters back. Julie comes home from school to find her mother gone and a deep, dark forest swallowing her hometown. Julie must fight wicked witches, avoid glass slippers and fairy godmothers, fly griffins, and outwit ogres in order to rescue her mom and save her Massachusetts town from becoming a fairy-tale kingdom.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this up but this wasn’t it. Don’t worry… it’s a good thing! I was very pleasantly surprised by all the fairy tale elements in the story. The Wild is the place where fairy tales all exist. Think of it like a fairy tale land. Years ago the characters became self-aware and decided they wanted out of The Wild because they were tired of living the same story over and over again. They formed a revolt (with Rapunzel leading) and managed to break out of The Wild.
The story had a Percy Jackson-ish feel as far as the stories are real and you need to remember what happens in order to get out. You definitely get a crash course in fairy tales with this book! I’m not too familiar with all the fairy tales but it seems Durst keeps them pretty straight and doesn’t twist them to be what she needs. At least the Rapunzel elements are pretty true to the original fairy tale.
Despite the fairy tale aspects of the story, it really remained a coming of age story for Julie. She’s the typical middle school-er. She’s not quite popular, she’s trying to figure out how she fits in with her peers, she doesn’t quite get along with her mom, she is embarrassed of her mom and her friends. All of that? Completely relatable minus the fairy tale touches. Through her journey to save her friends from The Wild she manages to grow up quite a bit. She finds the strength to do what needs to be done. She finally starts to understand what her mom and mom’s friends went through to get to the real world. She matures to the point where she let go of her heart’s deepest desire (finding her dad) because it’s the best thing for everyone.
The bottom line? It was a lot of fun!
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