Day: June 1, 2024

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Literary Adventures: New Turns Down Old Roads

Literary Adventures: New Turns Down Old Roads

By Stephanie Wallace, Library Assistant 2

Nostalgia and new adventures seem to be at odds these days with the plethora of remakes and reboots vying for attention against original movies at the box office. But what if you didn’t have to choose?

Introducing remix books — all of your old favorites, but told through new perspectives or presented in new settings. They’re a cozy blend of familiar names and fresh experiences, perfect for when you want to explore what-ifs and different angles.

Let’s start with some of the most well-known fairy tales, beloved by adults and children — the Disney Princess series, now starring their princes. Linsey Miller’s new Young Adult series rethinks favorite classics in “Prince of Song & Sea,” “Prince of Thorns & Nightmares,” and “Prince of Glass & Midnight,” the last of which debuts in October. I enjoyed “Prince of Song & Sea” the most, which focuses on Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid.”

In his side of the story, Prince Eric has bigger problems than a mysterious and playful mute redhead. He’s been cursed to die if he kisses anyone except his one true love, his kingdom is on the brink of ruin, and his presumed dead mother might actually be alive somewhere. It’s a lot for one man to handle, but luckily for him, he has a set of great friends who make an even better crew on his ship. Will they be able to find his mother before the witch who cursed him destroys everything? Up until the last minute, I had no idea whether Miller would stick to Disney’s happy ending or veer into the tragedy of Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale.

Kids and the young at heart will be charmed by Ivy Noelle Weir’s “Anne of West Philly.” In this graphic novel adaptation, “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery transforms into an urban tale about an energetic Black girl who loves coding and robotics. Just like her namesake, Anne learns to love her foster family, befriends a neighborhood girl named Diana, and has an intense rivalry with a boy named Gilbert. Yet in this updated version of events, instead of enjoying the countryside, Anne’s finding the beauty of murals in the alley behind her house and in every bit of misfortune modern life throws her way.

Are you a fan of the glitzy drama in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald? Consider picking up “The Chosen and the Beautiful” by Nghi Vo. Her debut novel re-centers Fitzgerald’s classic on Jordan Baker, who captures hearts with her stunning looks and star-worthy skills on the golf course. Despite these gifts and all of the privileges she’s afforded by her adoptive white family, she’s also a queer Vietnamese woman struggling to break down the doors barring her from her ambitions. When she discovers the magic at her fingertips, the denizens of Jazz Age New York never know what hit them.

If you’re looking for a more original take on an even older tale, check out “Psyche and Eros” by Luna McNamara. This adult romance novel teases apart the fragments of mythology surrounding the goddess Psyche and wraps her story around other Greek heroes. Told through the two titular character’s perspectives in alternating chapters, we see how the god of love, Eros, accidentally falls head over heels for none other than Psyche, who begins the story as a mortal warrior princess. I admire her strength and confidence, even as the events around the war with Troy shake her beliefs. Eros’s lovesickness is painfully relatable, and I laughed so much through his attempts to “cure” himself. My favorite character by far is Eros’s best friend, Zephyr, a god of wind who plays mischievous pranks on the would-be lovers. Any fans of romance or Greek mythology will love this story.

My personal favorite on this list is “Peter Darling” by Austin Chant. In this adult retelling of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” the famous mischief maker is now the eldest child of the Darling family, and he’s returned to Neverland as an adult to run away from London’s prejudices and his parents’ rejection of his identity. Yet Neverland isn’t the same magical island it had been in his youth. The Lost Boys have become pacifists under a new leader, much to Peter’s chagrin, and it seems everyone except Captain Hook has lost their interest in their old games. Peter’s attempts to bring back excitement backfire, and before he knows it, the old enemies turned tenuous allies are in an unlikely race to escape the very haven that had sheltered them.

As you embark on your Summer Reading adventures, I hope one of these books will be good company. If not, there’s plenty more where they came from.

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