Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow is a dull, colorless girl in a land full of color, and she is quite un-magical in a place where magic is the sustenance of life. When her father goes missing and her mother neglects and spurns her, Alice is determined to make something of her colorless, ugly life in spite of her lack of talent.

There’s a lot of falling involved in the course of the journey that Alice makes to find her father, and of course, the girl is named Alice. And Alice and her friend Oliver meet lots of strange creature in land of Furthermore, as they also encounter loads of nonsensical situations and obstacles. It all sounds like that other Alice, in Wonderland, but I would recommend that you read Lewis Carroll’s Alice books before or instead of this one. Mr. Carroll’s nonsense made some sense.

The writing is witty and imaginative at the sentence level, but the actual story starts out slowly. Over a hundred pages of introduction and set-up before the real adventure begins is a little too much of a muchness. Nevertheless, some delightful sentences and scenes kept me reading and enjoying the journey, even though the incessant squabbling between Alice and Oliver and the sheer ridiculousness of it all was a bit overwhelming.

Examples of lovely sentences:

“Humility had gotten lost on its journey to his ego, but the two had finally been reunited, and the meeting appeared to be painful. Oliver swallowed hard and looked away.”

“People are so preoccupied with making sense despite it being the most uninteresting thing to manufacture. . . Making magic . . . is far more interesting than making sense.”

“Laughter was a silk that would soften even the roughest moments.”

“Birds were pirouetting through the air and lambs were bleating their woes and flowers dipped and swayed in the wind like this was just another perfect day. But Alice wouldn’t believe it.”

Examples of sheer nonsense:

“Few come to Furthermore in search of decent pastures.” (decent what?)

“So she pet him between the ears and he nuzzled right into her hand.” (Isn’t the past tense of pet, “petted”?)

” . . . her feet kept moving even when she didn’t want them to. Not only did she not want them to keep moving, she wanted them to do the very opposite of keep-moving, but there was no one to tell her feet anything at all, as her mind was always missing when she needed it most.” (What does that mean?)

Alice and Oliver argue and lie to one another and and generally make their own lives miserable as well as the lives of those around them. On the other hand, they have excuses for their behavior. Alice feels rejected by her mother and abandoned by her father; Oliver has his own childhood sob story. And both of them are quite unkind to each other in the beginning of the story. If you can get past all that and enjoy the imaginative language and the nonsensical world of the story, maybe Furthermore will be just right for you. I liked Alice in Wonderland much better, thank you.

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