Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Summary: Jacob grew up on his grandfather’s stories of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—a house on an island where kids with strange abilities find a haven. When Jacob’s grandfather is suddenly killed, Jacob ventures to the island to see if the stories were true.
My thoughts: I’m fascinated by Ransom Riggs’ use of the word peculiar. It seems very purposeful: he uses this word to describe what others would call superpowers or “awesome abilities.” Riggs uses peculiar to highlight the strangeness of the children in the story, but still ground them in humanity. They’re not gods, they’re not saving the world—they’re just weird kids. And I think by doing this Riggs connects us with the children: everyone has their odd bits, only some are more obvious.
I think a large part of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about really seeing. We’re so used to seeing what we want to see—in other people, in the events that occur around us—that sometimes we miss out on what’s really there. Jacob is so close to submitting to rationality, but something inside causes him to push through. And what he discovers is fantastic.
This theme of seeing beyond is highlighted through Riggs’ use of photographs: if you look at them through a skeptical lens, then yes, they’ve obviously been double-exposed, tampered with or staged. But Riggs digs deeper and finds a fantastical story within each photo. The way that the photos fit into the story and are tied together is brilliant.
If you’re looking for something that’s absolutely unlike anything you’ve ever read before, pick up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom Riggs is a master storyteller, both in the fluidity of his writing and in the connectedness of his narrative to the found photographs.