Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
My dreams are wishes. My nightmares are truths.
This book contains two strong protagonists and well-developed supporting characters who dance together across the pages. Brilliantly executed this story looks at the heartbreaking horror of domestic abuse behind a façade of respectability, the appalling conditions Japanese American citizens were subjected to after Pearl Harbour and different takes on what construes as a family.
The night air closes in like the wings of a crow, folding over, protecting and gifting me something I lack.
Much of the hype around this book focuses it being a retelling of Peter Pan but this is not exactly accurate. Although there are some parallels to J. M. Barrie’s story, Nora & Kettle is far more than a retelling. While I have always loved the story of Peter Pan, it is a relief to see it used only as inspiration. I have not found a retelling that doesn’t focus on the immortality before and this makes a great change.
He casts no shadow. He swallowed the unwilling likeness years ago, and now it coats every organ in his body with blackness.
What I took away from this book are the extremes of tolerance and respect.
Tolerance in Kettle’s life is non-existent, he is subjected to suspicion and violence because of his ethnic heritage. While in Nora’s life any tolerance is negative as all the adults who knew what was happening behind closed doors did nothing to stop it. Respect in Kettle’s life is mixed, he is not respected in public because of his ethnic background, while in private his ‘family’ show respect for each other. In Nora’s life, her father is respected for his position in society but he shows no respect for his family. The contrast is inflammatory and I wish we could say we have learnt from our mistakes in the past but the current global events suggest that humanity does not learn.
Recommended age: 13+
Add to your shelf:
“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. — Abstract from Goodreads.com
The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.