A pretty remarkable book.
(You’ll be shocked to learn I picked up this one because of its cover. Then, I went to add the book links, and learned they changed the cover on the paperback edition. To this, I say BOO, because I think the hardback cover – seen below – more accurately captures the spirit of the book.)
Lizzie K. Foley’s Remarkable (IndieBound/Amazon) tells the story of Jane Doe, a very ordinary girl born to remarkable parents, in between two remarkable siblings, in a town so extraordinary that its name was changed – you guessed it – to Remarkable. However, it’s not your ordinary introspective coming-of-age novel. Instead, it’s a mystery and adventure story mixed together with pirates, some adults who are not who they appear to be, and a fun smattering of cultural references that will keep adults chuckling to themselves. (Think pictures on milk cartons, and workplace fantasy football leagues.)
Ultimately, Remarkable is kind of a sweet little ode to being yourself and finding contentment from within, rather than trying to meet perceived expectations. The message is fairly standard, but a little bit unexpected in the ways that it plays out: “being yourself” might just mean leaving all your responsibilities behind and becoming captain of a pirate ship. Most of the supporting characters are a little stereotyped, but I think that Jane’s development overcomes this.
As I read the book, I realized that it’s the sort of book that would have been a perfect read aloud for my brother and me when we were children. The parts that were less interesting to me (pirate related chatter and a pair of twins’ attempts to undermine all authority) would have been my brother’s favorites. Equally, the parts that would have had him dozing (Jane’s grandfather’s reflections on why someone might want to disappear, and the wooing of a mysterious lake monster) were among my favorites. For this reason alone, I think Remarkable is a book worth exploring for adults who are working with more than one child, and especially for people who need to capture the interest of a wide range of readers.