Drawings and a diary combine to produce a moving story of neglected youth.
In 2017, Ella has just moved into a house across from the ruins of Thornhill house, which used to be an orphanage in the 1980’s.
In 1982, Mary writes about her traumatic experiences in Thornhill.
This story is deceptively simple. Ella’s story is told through beautiful illustrations drawn by the author, devoid of words but still rich in meaning. Mary’s story is seen only through the entries in her diary, which makes her experiences more intimate and impactful.
Even though this book is aimed at middle grade or young adult, the themes it explores are very mature. I wonder is this a case of being classified for children because it has children in it, even though it really is for adults. I know I wouldn’t have liked this book as a child because of the way the story is told, and the shades of grey resolution. However, those are two things that I love about it now.
Mary is considered odd and unlikeable because of her selective mutism and introversion. As a once odd child, and still odd adult, I found it easy to identify with Mary, and I felt for her every pain and struggle.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but I certainly can’t say I learned as much about Ella from the illustrations as I did about Mary from her diary. However, her loneliness and her desire to be connected through creativity were apparent.
There is a third main character in this book, and that is Thornhill house itself, looming and ever present, it changes all whose shadow it touches.
This is a quick read. It’s an unusual book, but a few days after finishing it, it continues to haunt me. If you’re looking for a literary experience that’s moving and chilling, you can’t go wrong with this book.
I award Thornhill…
Thornhill is available on Amazon.