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  • Writer's pictureKarina Rodriguez

A Review of “The House in the Cerulean Sea”

“You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.”

Let me start this blog post off by saying that I genuinely believe that this book may be one of the most important books to read for people of all ages. It discusses what it means to be subject to discrimination simply on the way that you look or who you love in a way that makes it easy for a child to understand and heartbreaking enough to remind an adult to take a step back and make sure they are not contributing to the facilitation of discrimination of people throughout the world.

The House in the Cerulean Sea tells the story of a paranoid and finicky caseworker named Linus Baker who works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). He is sent to a house (in the cerulean sea... hence the title) where the children are considered some of the most “dangerous” and mysterious of their kind.

The Children

Of course, these children are nothing more than that... children. As a reader, you quickly fall in love with each of them, and Klune allows you to see into the lives of these wonderful little creatures and reminds you to have sympathy for them. I can solemnly swear that by the end of this novel, I truly felt like I was connected to each and every one of the children, and I wanted nothing more than to give each one of them a hug because they so deeply deserved it. I think what Klune does through these kids is something that many authors can do because all of their stories and emotions were so real and believable that I finished the story with a full recollection of what had happened to every one of the children. In this way, Klune creates a wonderful and whimsical world that is filled with children’s laughter, mischief, innocence, and unconditional love. I walked away from this book knowing that not only did the children act as characters to fall in love with, but they perfectly embodied what unconditional and unprejudiced love looks like.

The Romance

The romance in this novel is genuinely like no other. As a reader, I do not think that I have read enough books that depict a true LGBTQ+ relationship which is something that I have wanted to amend in my life. This book depicts the genuine and true love between the two characters, Linus Baker and Arthur Parnassus. There were moments in this story where their feelings for each other were so strong and so believable that I found myself holding my breath in anticipation because of how much I was rooting for these two characters. Not only does their relationship depict the love that they have for one another, but it also displays how they helped one another love themselves and appreciate the burning powers that they each have ( I promise if you read this book, you will understand). Nevertheless, their love is something that propelled me through the story because I was so intrigued by how it would play out that I could not put the novel down. Even more so, I think that it is important to note that if you are a reader who has not read a lot of LGBTQ+ novels because you have not been entirely open to doing so, this novel is a great place to start. I truly believe that as readers, we have the responsibility to read stories about people who are different from we may be because it is a great way to become more sensitive and understanding to other people‘s lives and experiences. I particularly enjoyed how nonchalant the introduction and blossoming of their relationship was because it never felt like a tactic in the way that it felt forced to depict LGBTQ+ characters. In fact, it is rarely even mentioned in the book that Linus and Arthur are gay and do not focus on the label at all. Instead, Klune authentically displayed a very true and powerful love that just so happened to be between two men. This allows for us as readers to see how natural this love is, and any sense of prejudice that may be within a reader (because, unfortunately, those people do exist) would struggle to deny the pureness of their love for one another. There is also a small mention of a lesbian relationship between Zoe and Helen which is briefly mentioned at the end that I think is important to note because neither of their sexualities was ever disclosed either. Rather, Klune allows for the labels of these characters to not have the power in the novel but rather for their feelings emotions to take the forefront. As an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a novel that embodies a gay relationship that is displayed as genuinely as the relationship between these two characters. I implore you to pick up this novel and (if you have any prejudice) allow it to strip away any prejudice you may have towards gay people.

The Balance

I want to congratulate T.J. Klune for this novel because he perfectly displays what it means to write about serious situations in a way that does not feel forced and is also incredibly believable and meaningful. As mentioned above, this novel discusses discrimination against magical youth in their world. Still, it is something that I found myself relating to a lot of the situations that we see within society today. Klune perfectly balances his whimsical and almost cartoonish world with very real topics and messages that I think are important for people of all ages to read. Whether you are someone who is an ally for minorities and the LGBTQ+ or if you are someone who holds prejudice within yourself, I truly believe that this novel can be the key to unlocking the sympathy, empathy, and compassion that this world so desperately needs. Klune, through the voices of Lucy, Theodore, Talia, Chauncey, Sal, Phee, Zoe, Helen, Arthur, and Linus, perfectly embodies what it means to be wonderful creatures and how each and every one of us can be part of the change that needs to happen to accept all people for who they are.

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