The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune [⭐⭐⭐]

By trumanrose | The Readr | 20 Oct 2021

The House in the Cerulean Sea is about a Case Worker named Linus Baker, assigned to an orphanage with magical children classified as extremely dangerous. There, he must decide whether the orphanage was well-taken care of (according to some rules and regulations) and that he not let his personal feelings guide his judgment.

I picked up this book because of pure hype. And since it was available in my online library. It has been getting rave reviews since it came out because of how wholesome it is. A pick-me-up during these troubling times. So I gave it a try.

When I finished the book, I felt peaceful. It lives up to the warm, cozy vibes it promises. When you read it, it almost feels like watching a Disney movie. But then I started exploring more on other people's opinions about the book and found out that it was inspired by the Sixties Scoop.

Before reading controversies regarding this novel, I never heard of indigenous genocide, nor had any relations with anyone involved, so I couldn't even imagine how dreadful it was. What's even more horrific is it has been going around until the mid 20th century! After reading more on the "inspiration" for this novel, all the rainbows and bubbly feelings were popped.

I can't say how other people linked directly to indigenous genocide would feel when their experiences are written down into some lighthearted fantasy novel: a "love conquers all" trope. To me, it's insensitive. What made it worse is that all the bad things that could've been called out, wasn't. No improvements were made on the rest of the "orphanages" (or residential schools from the context), nor any punishments were dealt with the people doing the "scoops".

Research on it yourselves if you like. Here's a Reddit post I think explains a great deal about the controversy quite well.

I don't mean to discourage anyone from reading this book. On its own, ignoring its influence, I think it's still a good story that anyone can get into and enjoy. If it were me, though, I think I wouldn't have supported the TJ Klune, had I known about all of these before.

One thing I didn't enjoy about the writing was the children's dialogue. It's cliché and cheesy for me and feels unrealistic especially in Lucy's dialogues.

There are also a lot of quotes you can collect from this book. Life lessons are there in every other paragraph. Stuff like: “We should always make time for the things we like. If we don't, we might forget how to be happy.” or “Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.” The messages are great, I honestly even noted down quite a lot of quotes, but it comes to a point when it just feels like a self-help book or a literal collection of quotes.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about The House in the Cerulean Sea. I want to recommend it to anyone since it's still a fun read, but at the same time...

Let me know your opinions about reading from controversial authors or novels. Regardless of its background, would you still read it?

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