Click on the book cover to read the Goodreads blurb.
When I began this book I had a smile on my face. I read the blurb, I read the first page and I smiled some more. I did not believe any of it. After all, this is a children’s book. What’s the worst that can happen? They will suffer for a bit and get hurt for a while, they’ll win some and lose some, it’ll make them tougher and eventually they’ll beat the bad guy. To you who thinks this – like I unwittingly did – I say: take the writer for his word. He knows what he’s talking about.
We are right in thinking that they win, in the end. Sort of. For – knowing Count Olaf – a brief period of time. But it is the tone in which the tale is narrated, the deliberately gloomy settings and the occasional addresses by the writer that drive home the point that there is very little hope. After all, they are children. The oldest is fourteen and the youngest is not yet in complete possession of all her teeth. Orphans, too, the lot of them. Add to that a shining pile of money and they’re practically begging the meanies in the world to off them. They are starved, mistreated, abused, both physically and verbally, and blackmailed. They’re frequently threatened with their lives, their plight is universally unheard or misunderstood.
Any of these things on any given day is a bit much to handle, for anyone. Put them all together at once and think of yourself in the place of a fourteen year old girl, a twelve year old boy and a small child who likes to bite things. It’s depressing. Depressing here means ‘causing or resulting in a feeling of miserable dejection’.
So why do I read these kind of books? Because they fill me with hope. If little kids with no one in the world to help them can get themselves out of the most horrendous situations, then I too can face whatever hardships are headed my way. That I don’t need any help, that I’m capable of pulling myself out of whatever mess I’m in. “It ain’t over until it’s over” and till it is, there’s always a chance of winning.
Two things that really stuck with me: they live in a filthy house, with a horrible guardian and just next door is the clean, homely place with lots of lovely books. In situations where everything is falling apart, it is so difficult to see a chance of happiness right next door, close enough to touch but which can never be yours. Just seeing somebody else living free of all the worries that plague makes your own cup seem a bit more bitter. Another thing was the way the children came to realize they were on their own. Their hopeful attempts at getting help were always unfruitful, making them realize that if they don’t want to be in this mess, they have to get out on their own. Which is a very important lesson, in my opinion. We often hope that our knight in shining armor will come riding to vanquish our dragons because it is much easier to do so than picking up a sword and riding into battle ourselves. In real life, almost everyone is fighting dragons of their own.
One more thing (it’s more of a question, really): Has anyone seen A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) movie? Yes, the one with Jim Carrey. Or the ongoing Netflix series? I saw the trailers for both and liked neither. The Jim Carrey one seemed too Jim Carrey-ey, if you get my meaning. The Netflix show seems very picturesque and abstract and quirky and laced with bits of modern humor, which makes it all wrong and inappropriate.
Where is Tim Burton and why hasn’t he got his hands on this yet?