Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I won this ARC on Goodreads and I’m so glad I did. I loved this book. Liesl and Po is Oliver’s first middle grade book (she wrote the young adult books Before I Fall and Delirium), and what a debut. I almost teared up just from reading her letter at the beginning of the book, and you can tell she poured her soul into every page.
Here are some things I loved:
- How Po's physicality changes with his mood.
- How the voice feels like you're being read a bedtime story, complete with your favorite blanket and a mug of hot chocolate.
- How she takes huge grown up issues and makes them approachable for a middle grade audience without watering down the emotion.
- How the story follows a few characters and plot lines. It’s such a fast read because you can’t wait to see what happens when the characters meet. I devour books like that.
- And, also, I loved Bundle the Ghost Dog-Cat!
Like most debut authors, Oliver visits some common tropes of the genre, but while some of the themes and elements in this book felt familiar, Liesl and Po never felt clichéd. For me, the familiarity gave the book a nostalgic feel.
Oliver paints a vivid picture of this grey, bleak world and the people in it. I especially enjoyed the stepmother and her warts that pulsated with her mood. I know her ugliness bothered some people, but I didn’t see this as an ugly = evil book. The Lady Premiere is evil, and she isn’t ugly. And I don’t remember Will or Mo being described as gorgeous.
The ugly = evil issue is overdramatized in my opinion. Guess what. Lord Voldemort is ugly and no one cares. I think the ugliness/beauty of a character in relation to their personality bothers people a lot more when the character in question is female. But back to Liesl and Po…
My only issue with this story was I wish we had gotten to find out what Po’s story was and also what happened to the guard’s sister. Oh, and while I love the cover, the action taking place on the cover isn’t entirely accurate.
Overall, a fantastic book, and I can't wait to see what's next from Lauren Oliver.
Recommend for: Anyone looking for a good middle grade read, especially kids dealing with the loss of a friend or family member.
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