Book Review: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Pub. Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover, 307pp
Age Range: 9 to 12

ISBN-13: 9780062014511
Source: Library

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

My Review:

 
Liesl & Po reads like a fairytale. Young Liesl, hidden away in the attic by an evil stepmother, eventually finds her way to freedom and adventure. While there are common tropes here, the story is not derivative. Liesl & Po is a magical tale with a unique premise and original ideas.

The story feels at once period and timeless. While it seems at times like the novel could be Victorian, there is nothing that pins it down to any one time or place.  You’ll instantly fall in love with the characters. Liesl is brave, artistic, and smart. She is befriended by Po, an unusual character whom I could never adequately describe. The reader is drawn to it with both curiosity and compassion. You really should find out for yourself what makes Po so loveably unique! Along the way, we also meet Will, who is taken with Liesl from the start. Each of her friends is drawn to Liesl for different reasons, but as the story progresses, the three are united in both mission and friendship.

The whole cast of characters, be they villainous or sympathetic, comes vibrantly off the page and into your imaginative space. You’ll be transported into another world as you journey along with Liesl and friends. You’ll laugh, sneer, cheer, and maybe even cry. For while this tale has sprinkles of magic, humor, and adventure, it is most importantly about love and relationships. At book’s end when you discover the real-life inspiration behind the novel, you’ll understand why Lauren Oliver put so much genuine heart its telling.

Lauren Oliver’s Liesl & Po, with its spirited heroine, its fresh take on ghosts and “the Other Side,” and its tender portrayal of love and loss is nothing short of a joy to read. 

Highly recommended!

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