This book has been recommended to me a lot. The last of which earlier this month when I faced the fear and anxiety that mark the start of a reading slump. Nothing I picked up was sticking. Nothing made me want to read, and someone told me to push through with this, which I had on hold from the library. And it was just what I needed.
This book has been described to me repeatedly as a warm hug, and I am going to have to plagiarize everyone who has been saying it and confirm that indeed, a warm hug is exactly what this book feels like.
Allow me to give you a bit of context. Linus baker is a social worker, working for the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth. His job is to go into orphanages and ensure that the children are well treated, while maintaining the necessary distance that guarantees he can remain professional in the execution of his duties. He is single and lives alone. He is amiable and suffers through life’s small inconveniences as he thinks he ought. He dislikes his boss but cares about the cases he is put in charge of investigating in an impersonal way. The procedure manual describes how his job is supposed to be done, and follows the rules to the letter. No more, no less.
That is until he is called in to “extremely upper management” and given a confidential assignment: to spend a month investigating and writing a report on the care of a number of magical children and the manager of an orphanage in an undisclosed location, maintaining the distance and impersonality “extremely upper management” has come to expect from his reports.
Linus gets a lot more than he bargained for.
I have to say that this story builds itself slowly, growing and developing in a way that you barely realise it’s happening before you’re already in love with every single character. The children are all lovely and unique, and you see Linus discovering himself along with all the things he’s been blind to for far too long.
But while the story feels lighthearted and wholesome, it deals with strong heavy themes of fear, and prejudice, and the perils of blind bureaucracy where people are reduced to numbers. It’s a story about love and acceptance, and overcoming one’s trauma to build something beautiful out of it. And it’s done in such a pure way that I literally felt like this book was hugging me. This was a very high 4.5 stars.