Thursday, April 9, 2015

Whole in the Clouds by Kristine Kibbee

Whole in the Clouds
Author:  Kristine Kibbee
Publisher:   illusio & baqer
Release Date: November 6th, 2014
Source: Netgalley
Cora Catlin is a misfit at best, and an outcast at worst. She feels out of place, as if everything is backward and something is missing from her life.

And then, on her first day of middle school, everything changes.

When Cora encounters an elfin stranger who speaks of the magical world Clouden, an entire kingdom hidden up in the sky, she can’t wait to leave her boring, humdrum life behind. As Cora travels to her new home, where children sprout from the ground and rivers flow with chocolate, she finds herself transformed—and if that weren’t enough, she has to adjust to royal parents, talking Pegasuses, a raging war, and an alluring love interest as well.

Exploring this new land, Cora unearths wonders and secrets beyond her wildest imaginings, discovering the meaning of true friendship, love, and what it means to feel whole. 

There is a line between Middle School Fiction and YA, and Whole in the Clouds falls pretty firmly into the former category. The writing is pretty light, the plot probably fell more in the whole unicorns and rainbows and sparkly magic category that I usually like, and I got bored pretty quickly with the plot. That's not to say I may not have enjoyed it more had I been younger. But as it stands, this wasn't quite mature enough for my taste.

One of the biggest problems I had with this story though was the treatment of beauty and weight. Cora is, to be blunt, fat, and the people surrounding her are pretty terrible to her about it. While that happens, and people are mean, I didn't like how the book handled the issue of her weight. She goes to this magical place, and then suddenly, tada, she's going to be skinny and beautiful? It just irritates me a little when that much emphasis is put on looks only to give a magical answer. She's made skinny because she's a good person on the inside, and when she gets to this land, the inside matches the outside.

I just feel like the morals were coming across all wrong. I don't think I'd want to share this with a middle schooler because I'm really not sure that's the message I want to be sharing. If anything, the story would make me feel even more depressed as a kid. If I'm fat but I'm a nice person, I'm just backwards? If I was in this magical place it'll all get straightened out? Why should my weight have anything to do with who I am on the inside? Red flags, red flags all over the place.

The world is creative, and the cover was beautiful, but some things just seemed shallow to me. This book had a lot of potential to encourage younger readers, but somewhere in the execution it came out garbled.

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