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Editor's choice: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Can a Florida teen find happiness on a wind-swept Welsh island where monsters pursue and an odd group of orphans is trapped in a time loop?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books
351 pp.

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Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman may seem like your standard poor little rich kid but really he’s a “peculiar.” And the only way for him to find happiness and a like-minded community is to flee his privileged life in Florida and retreat to a wind-swept island in Wales. Now if he can just find a way to deal with the murderous monsters who follow him there.

Jacob’s parents have lots of money, but he couldn’t possibly be less happy about his status as the sole heir to Smart-Aid – his family’s chain of drugstores that is “spreading across the state like some untreatable rash.” Bright but lonely and alienated, Jacob loves only his grandfather, Abe. Once he hits adolescence, however, he finds it harder to continue absorbing Abe’s odd stories about fleeing Europe to escape from monsters. Sure, everyone agrees, Abe deserves lots of sympathy as the only member of his Polish family to survive the Holocaust, but after a while, they decide, enough with the monster stories.

That is, until Abe is mysteriously murdered in the woods near his Florida home. The police swear it was a pack of wild dogs that got him but Jacob is not so sure. Could his grandfather have been telling the truth all along?

That’s the setup for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, one of the more fantastically entertaining young adult books of the summer. Debut novelist Ransom Riggs liberally sprinkles his book with a series of vintage photos around which he has constructed his plot. Depending on your taste, you will find the photos either totally cool or kind of creepy, but either way they feed the book’s atmospherics and help to convincingly set much of it in a time loop – an odd chasm in the space-time continuum in which the day Sept. 3, 1940, plays over and over again.

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