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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
In summary, Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a story about a boy who discovers the world of peculiar children and realizes that he is part of their world. However, I tend to choose to interpret things in a very different way from others. I usually try to stray from the surface of the story. This story, I believe, is a story told through the lens of the main character's mental illness. As you can see, in my point of view, the story becomes something entirely different. I have a strong reason to believe this is not the way the author intended this book to be read, but I find it more enjoyable than what is written on the pages.
In the beginning, the protagonist, Jacob, narrates his life. He says that he has no control over his future, and all his family wants him to join their line of business. First of all, all of his thoughts are blank observations that allows the reader to create no mental picture at all. Within one paragraph, Jacob introduces many different settings. This indicates that he is not capable of understanding his surroundings nor see multiple things/ ideas as one. His mental illness made it so that he couldn't interpret his environment correctly.
Strangely enough, the one person that does not control Jacob's life is also crazy. It is his grandfather who is suffering from PTSD. He used to tell him bedtime stories, stories about imaginary people. This was the grandfather’s coping mechanism after WW2. They were never close, but once his grandfather died, Jacob became more connected to him than usual. Both of them seem to become one. The grandfather’s last words were for Jacob to go to a specific home, a home for “peculiar” kids, and find the truth. This is a mental institution, the kids are called wards, like a hospital.
As soon as he thinks of another character, they, as if in a play, began to move and appear lively with dialogue. He can’t see thing the way he is supposed to, for he is on medications and without them he will see imaginary people.
In the middle of the book, Jacob gets a psychiatrist. When the doctor’s therapy doesn't work, he goes to the home, the mental institution. At the home, readers not only can see his thoughts, but they can understand him in more personal way now. His thought are written in italics. This shows the readers how to distinguish his thought from just normal observation. Before going to the home he could not think for himself, the absence of italicized words prove this statement to be true. Now he is getting better, he can decide how to live his life, of course not fully aware of his mental illness, and is even controlling some of the peculiar children will meet later in the book. He believes his life is so great without his family, he is wondering if he should join the peculiars forever.
From here on and out, new characters are introduced. These kids are the “imaginary” (pg. 344) peculiar kids. These kids are the product of Jacob's mental illness and his grandfather bedtime stories. They alter his reality, and with each day, he is in their world, he becomes one of them. These kids think that Jacob is their protector, their god. When he enters the home, there are other people but he can’t reconsider their faces. They are not familiar to him, so he won’t accept that they are real. To keep him company, as a therapy mechanism, he makes the bed time stories from his grandfather’s life, his own. He starts to like the same girl that his grandfather once did. Her name was Emma. He only recognizes the faces he wants to see, so he sees imaginary people. Ironically only one of them is really imaginary, even he can’t see him. This invisibility power is also a consequence; it makes him the weakest one. Powers? Yes, Jacob has powers, he can see monster, by the way, the monsters are the children. The children “seduce” (pg. 244) him from reality, wanting him to stay in their world forever. He has an inner conflict, suggesting a resistance to his mental illness (pg. 305-311), that makes him question what side of the world he should live on.
On the other hand, the readers are allowed to see the view of someone else other than the untrusted narrator, Jacob. We get the view of his father. The father is drunk at this scene and is in a hypnotized state of mind. He hallucinates and starts to see Jacob’s “friends”. The father accepts his son's reality and “supposedly” their father-son relationship is fixed, if it was even broken in the first place.
At the end of the book, one of Jacob's imaginary friends dies in the hand of his psychiatrists. It is ironic because the children “cheated death” (pg. 210), and yet someone killed one. The rest of the surviving friends are angry at Jacob because he betrayed them to a him doctor. They said the doctor was trying to get rid of them, and they are certainly right.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend this book as someone's first book to read. I would suggest to not read what the text is actually saying, and that can go for most books. If you read this book just the way it is written you have two choices; put it down because it is too boring or make your own fantasy between the lines. If you are wanting to challenge yourself, you view another way read this book. I tried to read this book less as a fiction novel but more non fiction. If you are interested in the mind, then you should read the book. Other than those cases, there is no reason to read it.
Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs, shows that when mental illness contaminates the mind, reality can deceive the truth.