The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls
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.
Fantastic not just for MG readers, but also with great YA crossover appeal
This review was originally posted at http://lustforstories.blogspot.com/2013/02/review-cavendish-home-for-boys-and.html
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls was an absolute delight to read. It starts off by introducing Victoria, the protagonist, and her best friend. It is immediately clear that Victoria is a snooty best friend to Lawrence, and constantly reprimands him for being a constant annoyance and awfully flawed to Victoria herself. Then one day, Lawrence simply disappears, and Victoria is left to do everything by herself. Loneliness does not begin to describe how she feels. But she's not just lonely. There's just something simply wrong with the neighbourhood; all those children going missing seems suspicious . . .
I feel like Claire Legrand took everything I loved about MG reads and smooshed them into a single story. One of them is a moral. It teaches kids the lessons of life, and reminds older readers what is truly important. What I like about The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is that it doesn't shove a moral in your face. In fact, it may not have been a moral at all, but I felt like the book actually did have an underlying message for its readers. I felt like the entire message was hidden within a character's development, the setting and the cast that lived within it, and a seemingly friendly antagonist. But that could just be me reading far too much into the story.
Another thing I found interesting about The Cavendish Home was the symbolism in the names. In the book, Victoria mentions how she felt quite partial to a sign featuring the word "Victory" because of how it made her feel as if her parents always knew she'd be a winner. As well, Miss Cavendish has a symbolic name as well, and one that doesn't really need explaining.
Though The Cavendish Home is a MG read, it has a lot of crossover YA appeal. Something that'd come in handy would be its third-person PoV. With a third person narrative, I am not forced into a first person narrative with a mindset that I cannot agree with, which tends to happen a lot with YA reads. I mean, it's kind of obvious I'm not a grade school-aged perfectionist, and while a few years ago it may have been true, don't force me to think like someone I clearly am not.
Continuing on with the endless list of things I love about The Cavendish Home is its cover. Usually, I'm not a fan of brown, but it fits perfectly in this case. Not to mention how the cover isn't just a couple of random images thrown together, they're actually relevant to the story, from the characters to the dog to the home.
Moving on. I love Legrand's construction of Victoria's character. She was condescending, mean, pushy, and just so wonderfully flawed. You can see how that could come about from pressure, from her parents, peers, her perfect town. But you notice how she regrets some things. Like her being such a terrible friend to Lawrence just before he disappeared. After all, she is very much human. And along her more negative qualities are some that are great contributors to her part in freeing the children from the twisted home, including her ambition, perseverance, intellect. As well, you would notice subtle changes to her character, like her being so terrified for Lawrence in the home, her disgust at Miss Cavendish's torture methods, and her kindness to Jacqueline whom she previously shunned. All those developments happened within Victoria, but she didn't lose her spunk or attitude, which was one of the many things I admire about The Cavendish Home.
Another character that stood out to me was Miss Cavendish. She is among the most conniving antagonists I have ever read, with a nice, but aloof demeanor, and hidden viciousness within. It's like having someone grin at you while stabbing you in the stomach, or as one of Bruno Mars' lyrics say, "You'll smile at my face then rip the brakes out my car." Wonderful. Just wonderful. (Note the sarcasm.)
The entire story, altogether, was just . . . indescribable. (See? I'm out of words here.) The plot line fell into place in a very simple way, but with subtle twists, perfect for MG readers. Its ending was just so absolutely magical, showing you how Victoria's life went on, but with this gigantic twist thrown in that makes the story live on.
Just to wrap things up, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is a far-beyond-my-expectations read that is not great for just MG readers, but also holds great appeal for YA readers as well. Get this, and you won't be disappointed, I swear.
One day Victoria's friend Lawrence goes missing. This does not fit in with her perfect plans to make him a bit less...rough around the edges. She also is sort of concerned for his well-being. His parents tell Victoria that he's visiting his sick grandmother, but something about this excuse seems a bit off. Maybe it's Lawrence's parents that seem off. Victoria decides it's up to her to investigate what has happened to Lawrence and the other kids who seem to be disappearing. Victoria has a sinking feeling that it all might have to do with the Cavendish Home. She's not sure what goes on there, so she'll have to investigate and what she finds will surprise her.
This was such a fun story. Plenty of mystery and intrigue and general creepiness. I loved the little bugs that were scattered throughout the story and the few illustrations made this story even more of a delight. Victoria was the kind of girl who needed everything to be perfect. She started hanging around Lawrence for the very reason of making him perfect. He was always quite disheveled with his head in music. Somehow though, Victoria managed to tolerate Lawrence and it seems she even grew fond of him.
Much of this book we are only with Victoria. Lawrence disappears quite early on, so we are tangled up in Victoria's rumination. She seems quite smart and able at this point. She's like a regular Nancy Drew, sleuthing around town. It helps that the grown-ups aren't their usual selves. There are a lot of great characters in this novel, some we only meet briefly but all of them play their parts and play them well.
The Cavendish Home is incredible. Every part of it left me feeling a bit creeped out. I really enjoyed it though, and could picture it vividly in my mind. I don't want to talk too much about it and spoil anything but it was a delight.
If you enjoyed Coraline of The Mysterious Benedict Society, this will be right up your alley. This is a smart, sinister read that will leave you guessing until all has been uncovered.
"When Victoria Wright was twelve years old, she had precisely one friend."
"The air stank of onion, and something worse, a heavy tang of rot."