Today, I'm happy to participate in a tour for Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. This book deals with so many hard topics but it's honestly such an important addition to YA lit. It shines a light on some things in the past that are often looked over.
Title: Nora & Kettle
Series: A Paper Stars Novel
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Retelling
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source: A copy of this book was provided to me by the author via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
"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."
Find Nora & Kettle online
I didn't know exactly what to expect when I first found this book. I was intrigued by the cover and the synopsis but I was a bit wary of the fact that it was a historical fiction. I've had some trouble getting into other books like this before. This book is different, though. It is beautifully written and brings to light a lot of hard topics in a way that did them justice. This is a book that I'm happy to have read and feel is important for everyone to give a chance.
Probably my favorite part of this book was the diversity. I've love seeing the uprising of diversity in YA lit lately and this book really brings that home. Being able to see from the point of view of Kettle, a Japanese American, was eye opening. He had to deal with a lot of adversity and challenges that were directly related to the way he looked. Being able to see the way these things affect him was a hard but necessary learning experience.
The author really held nothing back with these characters. Not only do we see Kettle struggling, we witness horrible abuse with Nora. Her father is just absolutely despicable. It was incredibly hard to read about what she had to endure within her own home. At times, I found it difficult to continue reading those parts but I really believe that we have to have our eyes opened to the reality of the world, no matter how harsh it may be. Being witness to the horrible circumstances Nora and Kettle endured was just as important as it was hard.
My only problems with this novel were my wish that we would have seen Nora and Kettle interacting sooner in the story and the extremely subtle Peter Pan references. I wanted to see their two stories come together and was waiting for that to happen for what felt like a long time. Even still, their individual stories were powerful and engaging and kept me reading. And it was sometimes hard for me to remember that this was a retelling. I feel like this story could have stood strongly on its own without being a retelling.
Nora & Kettle is a powerful story that highlights some harsh realities. At times difficult to read, this book is an important addition to Young Adult. It brings a wonderful splash of diversity into the genre and it isn't afraid to face tough issues. I'm excited to see more books as brave as this one introduced in YA.
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.”
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About the Author Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.
She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.
Connect with Lauren Nicolle Taylor online