“But this particular glance was so eloquent as to come dangerously close to conversation, and everyone knows it is impolite to enter into conversation without first performing the proper introductions all around. So let us pause for a moment to do just that.”
From the year of 1902 when Peter Pan first appeared in literature to the very year we find ourselves in now, the tale of the boy who would never grow up has been told in more ways than I could personally count. As an avid lover of Peter Pan and all things involved in his beautiful world, it is exceedingly rare that I find adaptations that irrevocably rearrange my feelings for it. At the risk of stating something potentially blasphemous, it has become necessary for me to admit I have come to the conclusion that The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown surpasses them all.
I was excited to read The Wendy from the very moment it fell under my radar, a mere nine days ago. Quickly, I decided it was the one book from 2018 that I knew I needed to read. I’ve read numerous retellings relating in one way or another to Peter and the characters surrounding him. I have fallen in love with reiteration after reiteration from the time I was four years old, devouring all I could about the realm of Neverland and the boy Peter, who managed to inspire in me a feeling little else has. I’ve critiqued and judged and enjoyed and recommended rather a large number.
The Wendy, by far, is my favorite and it is all due to the character of Wendy, herself.
Our heroine begins her story, a young girl of ten, with a dream. In a world where women are looked down upon and shoved into the cookie cutter expectations of their gender by men who could not possibly even begin to understand the sheer strength and character a woman has, Wendy Darling perseveres. The degree of respect Wendy both earns and demands as she develops throughout the course of the novel is truly inspiring. She shows strength, wit, determination, and a fight that never once leaves her. At every turn she takes her society’s preconceived opinion of her and makes every effort to prove her worth.
There is no question in my mind to the fact that Wendy outshines every other character in this novel. And the best thing about this fact is that the other characters are exceptional. They are weaved into the story amazingly with the perfect mix of originality and similarity, paying homage to Barrie’s characters in the best way possible. I both felt that I knew the characters and was getting to know them better, something that has admittedly occasionally been lacking in some retellings.
The introduction of each character is done brilliantly and I found myself adoring them all. From the perfectly captured persona of Peter himself to the endearingly villainous James Hook whom I simply love to hate, and even further to John, Michael, and Nana who were all so perfect I wasn’t even aware that I needed to read their characters this way until I did. Each character felt real and full of depth, even and especially those who weren’t even a part of the original tale.
And it is here I must admit my love for Olaudah Equiano (or Gustavo’s Vassa) and implore everyone who reads this book to read the Acknowledgements once they’ve reached the end of this chapter in Wendy Darling’s tale. Not only is it enlightening, but it is additionally heartwarming and quite respectable on the part of the authors. I was thoroughly pleased and excited about it, at least.
As a final homage to the characters, hilariously Wendy’s eyebrow becomes a character all on its own, speaking to those around her with an air of force and authority. Admittedly, this was quite a new and regularly reoccurring persona throughout the novel, intriguing in its originality, so my advice is: expect it, embrace it, love it.
And beneath all of these beautifully developed and amazing characters is a plot more engaging than most and impressive, to boot. Of course, anyone who knows the tale of Peter Pan would expect that they know where the story is headed at one point or another and I am pleased to report that Sky and Brown keep us on our toes in the most exciting of ways. Wendy thrives in the events of her story, making decisions most unexpected and impressive. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Perhaps the most (and really only) disappointing thing about having the pleasure to read such an amazing novel both in general and especially prior to its official publication date is the fact that the wait I shall have to suffer through for the next chapter of the story already feels painfully long. I imagine I shall end up rereading The Wendy at least twice more before the year is up.
So, now that I have thoroughly expressed my adoration for what is sure to be the best novel I read all year, my end request is that everyone immediately go procure a copy for themselves. The Wendy is officially available on January 16th, and believe me, it is well worth the read.
I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.