Like thousands of other children around the world, I considered Peter Pan one of my favorite stories. I used to spend afternoons jumping off of the couch trying to fly. Then I’d stay awake at night to see if he’d come to my window after my parents were asleep, but unfortunately, the Sandman knocked me out long before Tinkerbell ever made her appearance.
Thanks to Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown, my inner child knocked once more with The Wendy. To be completely honest, I usually avoid Young Adult books. I gave this one a chance because it was about one of my favorite childhood stories and it promised all the adventures that Wendy (and girls everywhere) deserved. Friends, it did not fail.
The story begins in 1780 with poor little Wendy Darling who, in this story, is an orphan. An orphan with big dreams of sailing the high seas and having adventures. Fast-forwarding to 1790, Wendy is seventeen and has managed to find a place as a diviner for the Home Office. It’s a top-secret position, of course, since officially there is no magic for her to recognize and definitely no war against magical creatures such as the Everlost (the name given to Peter Pan and his kind), who have apparently been stealing children away and killing their guardians. On one fateful night, they attack. Wendy meets their mysterious leader, Peter Pan himself. This turn of events sets Wendy on a path towards realizing her dreams, but at what cost? And to whom? Is she even on the right side of the war?
These are questions which, alas, shall have to wait to be answered until the sequel is released next year. I probably should have looked into that before I burned through this copy because now I’ll have to wait longer. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Ah well. Let’s discuss what we know!
The way the characters were reimagined was sensational. There is no shortage of Peter Pan retellings, but this one was entirely clever and original, in my opinion. The authors thought through all the angles, examined every loophole, and made their characters smart enough to figure their way out. And all with a sense of humor from the narrator that made this book an absolutely refreshing, light read.
I do have two minor quibbles with this story, however. We all know and understand that life for a woman in the eighteenth-century was inhibited and difficult, to say the least. That said, her gender was mentioned far too much. I think the authors could have trusted their audience a bit more to remember the added difficulties that Wendy faced without having to remind us so often.
I also would have loved to see a more flawed, human Wendy. As she’s written, she perfectly reflects the beauty, kindness, and magnetism that we know her for. But to accommodate the needs of the story, she’s also had to become tougher. So while it’s wonderfully complex to have a Wendy that’s innocent yet intimidating, effortlessly stunning yet kind, I’d like to see her be more relatable somehow. We can’t all be perfect! What’s her fatal flaw?
That said, I smiled and laughed my way through this book. It gave me that same sense of longing I always had to join in the adventure, while also giving me an opportunity to see new possibilities for this classic that grow with the times and include more of us wannabe explorers. The original Wendy always seemed to swoon every time something interesting happened. Not so in this retelling.
Go ahead, give this book a read. Your inner child won’t be disappointed.