Confession time: when I was a kid, I sort of lived in my head. I was imaginative, quiet, and always working up a new story or some adventure to daydream about. I was that kid who would get called out by the teacher not for talking too much or acting out, but because I was staring out the window, thinking about what Pokemon I would want to take with me on my quest to become the Pokemon master, or what it would be like if I, like so many of the books I read as a kid, could go to some fantasy world and find all manner of strange and wonderful creatures and new friends.
Even now, at 24, I can still appreciate that part of child me. Sure, I don't think that I'll be able to walk through a closet and end up in Narnia, but sometimes, I still think about what it would be like to go on an adventure, meet all manner of strange and wonderful creatures, and together fight off some great evil and save the world. Or, more realistically, I would love to go backpacking across New Zealand, and meet some wonderful people who would remain close friends for the rest of our lives.
When I first picked up this book, I was looking for a simple fantasy story, but instead I found a deep and touching tale of growing up, coming of age, and dealing with the pain and suffering of life. Let's be honest here: life is not always easy, but some of us have it easier than others. For me, childhood had a lot of ups and down. As a kid, I was very happy. I was active, got along well with boys, and had a lot of fun. When I got to be about 10 or so, I started having friend troubles, as girls do, because my classmates were getting into cliches. And by the time I was in seventh or eighth grade, it had graduated from cliches to bullying. There were years that I struggled because I was bullied to the point where I had no self-esteem. For those of you who have never experienced it, there is no way to explain it. It is the worst thing I have ever experienced, and I would never wish it on anyone.
Anyways, on to the book. I think what attracted me to this book once I stared reading was the fact that I could see so much of myself in Barbara. Here, we have a young girl who certainly stands out in her class. She's quirky, she's odd, and she doesn't care. When questioned, she claims that she kills giants, but this is all just a cover for coping with issues at home. She's a smart kid, but you can see that she is struggling through something. But, instead of making this an obviously mopey piece, in the hands of Joe Kelly, this becomes an amazing story full of heart and imagination. It was incredibly engaging and difficult to put down. We want to cheer on Barbara through her struggles, even though she makes herself somewhat unlikable. But, she's a kid with a lot of emotions all bottled up inside, and like all of us, just wants to be loved and accepted.
The start is a bit slow, so make sure you give it some time to get involved. And then, toward the end, there is some shocking stuff. I'm not going to say anything more, but you don't want to miss out on this! A great collaboration of drama, magical realism, and fantasy, this book is sure to blow you away! Not gonna lie: there were a few parts where I got pretty choked up. Which is saying something, since I generally try to be as emotionless as Mr. Spock, haha! But, seriously--go and read this! You'll be so glad you did! And once you read it, come back and tell me what you thought about it!