Publishing Info: August 8, 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 14, 2014
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. An atmospheric, heartfelt, and delightfully spooky novel for fans of Coraline, Splendors and Glooms, and The Mysterious Benedict Society.Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.) But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all. If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.
I don’t read a ton of middle grade books, but when Alyssa, Amy and volunteered for the Kids Author Carnival this year at BEA and found out that it was being co-hosted by Claire LeGrand, we really wanted to read one of Claire’s books before the event! We featured the book just the other week for On the Same Page and all of us really enjoyed it!
What really struck me about the book first of all was how visually appealing it was. I just loved being able to picture everything that was going on and how Victoria’s life was slowly changing from the organized, structured ways that she had established and quickly spiraling out of control with the growing presence of Mrs. Cavendish, the owner of the orphanage in the neighborhood. It was slightly terrifying to witness how Victoria’s world was changing around her and how she had to figure out not only how NOT to get sucked in but how to change it back.
I also really loved the friendships in this book. Victoria’s only friend is Lawrence, an untidy boy who she doesn’t even consider a friend but a project. Victoria only takes him on as her project to teach him how to look smarter and act proper. Naturally when Lawrence mysteriously disappears, Victoria commits to getting him back and starts to realize that maybe they really were closer friends than she even admitted to herself. I really liked how easily their friendship developed, even without Victoria knowing it. I just really love great friendships in books and it was refreshing reading a middle grade book where obviously friendships are more prominent since the characters are too young to develop romantic relationships.
I was definitely hooked the whole book. Claire LeGrand left the perfect amount of suspense and mystery to keep the readers invested and I was desperate to figure out what exactly the deal was with Mrs. Cavendish and said home for boys and girls. The crazy things that were going on would be absolutely terrifying if I were actually experiencing them as an adult so I can’t even imagine how Victoria held it together! But she’s also a person very much driven by logic and reasoning so she probably didn’t really stand for all of the off-kilter events. It definitely had a Tim Burton sort of feel for me which really added to my reading experience!
“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Victoria // Character Obsessions: Tidiness, order, being the top of her class.
Victoria kind of reminded me of Hermione. She’s very careful, very smart, and places a lot of importance on structure, tidiness, and good grades. I really liked how her personality really grew and she matured a lot. I feel like usually we see characters with good personal relationships and they grow to mature in other ways, but Victoria was already very mature in respect to the adult world and instead her relationships really grew throughout the book.
Kept Me Hooked On: Middle grade. I really don’t read a lot of middle grade, but every once in a while I read a really good one. Cavendish was a lot of fun and I think I really enjoy MGs with a darker side to pull the adult in me over.
Left Me Wanting More: Backstory. I really wanted to know even more about Mrs. Cavendish, how she was able to do what she did, and where she came from. I think that was one of the only things I was really missing from the story. I just wanted to know so many more details about her!
This book was really fun and Claire LeGrand is a fantastic writer! I loved so many aspects of this book and it was a fun, quick, and dynamic read for me.
(Click the cover to see my review!)