Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver is a young adult (middle grades) novel with three protagonists—an orphan girl locked in an attic, an orphan boy who serves as an apprentice to an alchemist, and a ghost whose stories are inexorably bound together as circumstances converge to a conclusion that is gratifying even if it is, let’s face it, oh so predictable.
Liesl is the little girl in the attic and it is her artistic ability that draws (no pun intended) a ghost to cross over from the other side. Liesl’s drawings come into play later in the story. In the meantime, Will, who is running errands for his abusive alchemist master, makes a mistake in his exhaustion that has a domino effect. Each piece in the puzzle falls into place and the disparate characters—the alchemist, the archetypical evil-stepmother, and others—all come together at the end.
The entire time I was reading this novel I could easily see it being translated to film, one of those “fun for the entire family” type films that has a boy, a girl, and even a gender neutral ghost to appeal to all younger audience members. If handled well, it would very likely be a hit and if the children who see the movie then chose to read the book, it would truly be a winner all around.
I liked this book. I didn’t love it but it was a much needed and pleasant distraction. And now, I shall move it to the Bibi’s Future Box so that when she is older she can read and maybe she will like it or even love it.