Hello everybody – hope you are all keeping safe. I am lucky enough to be exclusively working from home and as I do so, I am trying to create a mental health routine of comfort reading, writing, going for (safe) walks and TV watching. Since I have read over 30 books so far this year, I will start posting about my recommended Social Distancing Reads more frequently as a way to catch up and keep up.
Well, this was WONDERFUL in every possible way: heartwarming, lovely, romantic, funny and full of unbridled optimism and the belief that humans are actually good and will eventually do the right thing. It is incredible how the good old cynical me, instead of feeling like this is an impossible naïve scenario, was instead left with a sense that everything is possible and good will always win. It was an welcome respite from Our Trying Times and the first book I managed to read in one sitting for a long time.
Linus is a by-the-book caseworker employee of a ministry of magic – he is responsible for visiting orphanages for magical children and make sure they are alright. When is called by a the Extremely Upper Management to go on a secret mission to investigate an orphanage far away from everything on a island by the sea (he has never seen the ocean!), he is taken aback but orders are orders and he will follow them. He is given case files for six children and their carer – a man named Arthur. When he first opens the first file he cannot believe his eyes and literally passes out. The children, they are impossible, rare magical beings that could potentially be dangerous.
When he arrives on the island, it is with a mixture of fear and anxiety but with the belief that he is there doing the right thing.
Linus is a forty-year-old gay man who thinks he is past his prime, who doesn’t believe he has anything of note to contribute to the world and who is perfectly fine thank you very much just spending time in his little house, with his little fussy cat, listening to old albums on his little Victrola and whose only spot of colour is the little sunflower he has planted. It is of course, IMMEDIATELY obvious to everyone he meets when he arrives on the island that Linus is a caring, nurturing, fiercely protective man who will do everything to right perceived wrongs, to help the children and to support Arthur.
The book proceeds to then melt my heart as it builds up this mismatched family. This being the book that it is, Linus is immediately smitten with the children and Arthur. What follows next is a slow build up of a found family, of a group of misfits finding each other and fighting the System and a romance between Linus and Arthur that is a mix of wonderful pining and almost-conversations and slow dances and long-held looks. It is a book of quiet revelations, of deep transformation and of the world-wide effect of doing the right thing.
And I loved it so damn much, I want the whole world to read it.