After the ending of The Oracle, my daughters and I couldn't wait to get going on The White Thread by K.B. Hoyle. Because we were on a road trip, the girls got a head start on reading it because I had to drive, and reading while driving is generally considered unsafe. Instead, as the girls discussed the book in the back seats, and I had to repeatedly threaten to leave them on the side of the road if they dared mention any spoilers. Again, I'll post Amy's review along with mine here.
I read the first two books in this series, and I loved them, but this one is by far my favorite. This book is called The White Thread.
In this book the main character, Darcy, and her friends go to the magical land they go to every summer, Alitheia, which is a parallel world to our own, to fix a mistake that Darcy made. She felt grief and regret over that mistake. When Darcy arrives in Alitheia and finds out there is a way to fix her mistake, she and her friends take a voyage to an island that has never been explored before, and, like always, great adventure awaits them.
This book told me to always value friendship, but it also made me think what I would do for my friends, what I would do if I made the mistake that Darcy made, and if I would do what Darcy did for her friend in this book.
This book is full of excitement and suspense, and I couldn’t write too much about the book without putting in too many spoilers. I’m 13, and I highly recommend it for preteens and older. It is a very good book and I couldn’t put it down at all.
The third book in K.B. Hoyle's The Gateway Chronicles, The White Thread continues the story of the six friends who travel to the magical land of Alitheia each summer, on a mission to save it from an adversary that threatens the land. In this book, Darcy, a year older, and I'm happy to say, a year wiser, is still on a mission to right the wrongs she made in The Oracle. With her five companions, and familiar characters like her maybe-betrothed Prince Tellius and Rubidius the Magician, they set on an adventure overseas to reach -
Well, I really can't tell you that, can I?
What I can tell you is why this book is valuable for today's kids. For this review, I want to focus on how Hoyle deals with children, evil, and trauma.
Issues like war, violence, and death are sticky issues for kid's books. As part of our better natures, we want to delay kids from dealing with seeing terrible things in the world as long as possible. It's hard enough when our children see things like school shootings and stories of refugees on the news, but it's even worse when kids are forced to see things like that first hand.
In Alitheia, Darcy sees some really awful things. To make things even worse, some of those awful things were a direct and indirect results of her own actions and mistakes. This is a difficult thing for any young person to wrap their brains around, and it takes Hoyle a lot of courage to even attempt struggles like that in her characters.
At the beginning of The White Thread, we learn that Darcy, now 15, was plagued by nightmares during her year away from Alitheia. She obsessed over returning to Alitheia and how she could fix her mistakes. She truly grieved the friends she lost and experienced anxiety over wondering who would still be there when she arrived in Alitheia. Besides Darcy, we also see how Tellius deals with his childhood trauma, including a unique scene where Tellius and Darcy traded nightmares, which not only gave them a better understanding of each other, but gave the reader valuable insight into the how the characters coped with the trauma they had experienced.
Hoyle deals with violence realistically. When writing for kids, I think it's tempting to gloss it over a bit, and make it look "not as bad" as it could have been. However, by allowing terrible situations to be what they are, it allows the characters to cope with them in an authentic manner. It's possible to write realistic violence without glorifying it or desensitizing kids, as long as the author doesn't allow the characters to lose their humanity and compassion as they face the situation. Hoyle not only has her characters face the evil in her stories, she empowers them to push back against it.
The world can be terrible. Sometimes, kids have too much first hand experience with that fact. The Gateway Chronicles accepts that there's no such thing as a perfect world, and validates that it's okay to feel that the ugliness in the world is, in fact, ugly. The characters show the reader that trauma, grief, and regret are normal reactions to violent and scary situations. The question is, of course, what to do with those emotions.
This post is focusing on The White Thread, and we won't see how Darcy and Tellius continue to work through their struggles until later in the series. Through following Darcy's adventure, we also follow her journey of working through her trauma. Hoyle crafts the novels to in a way that acknowledges and validates experiencing trauma, without succumbing to the evil that caused it.