Each year, the Alex Award committee works to select ten titles published for adult readers that might have special appeal to young adults, ages 12-18. One of the 2021 selections is The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is brilliant and gentle, the narrative slipping on like a well-worn sweater while performing a certain magic that makes it all feel fresh. The story focuses on Linus Baker, longtime employee of the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. His job as a caseworker sends him into orphanages designed for the care and keeping of these children with unusual or fantastic gifts, and his judgment on those facilities determines whether they stay in operation or not. He lives alone with his cat, Calliope, and suffers the constant rain and near-daily harangues from his neighbor until one day, he is unexpectedly chosen to go on a month-long observational visit to an orphanage shrouded in secrets. Home to the most dangerous, highly classified magical children, this orphanage is run by the mysterious Arthus Parnassus. As Linus gets to know Arthur and these remarkable children, everything begins to change.
The book is a delight, and we are grateful to Klune for this thoughtful and inspiring interview!
THE HUB: This book defies classification! Published as an adult title, winning an Alex Award for YA crossover appeal, it could also easily fit on middle grades shelves next to Harry Potter or the Penderwicks or the Melendy quartet from Elizabeth Enright. Why do you think this book works across so many ages?
KLUNE: I think there’s something not only topical about the story, but also universal in its messaging. Fantasy is often filled with grimdark stories (absolutely nothing wrong with that!), and we don’t get to see a lot of “happy” fantasy these days. I wanted to write a story that reminded me of the cozy fantasies I read as a kid, books that not only made me happy, but allowed me to believe everything could be okay. Hope can often seem like it’s in short supply these days, and while a novel like The House in the Cerulean Sea won’t fix the world’s problems, I hope it can at least serve as a small reminder that we are capable of so much when we stand for what we believe in and lift each other up.Continue reading An Interview with Alex Award Winner TJ Klune, author of The House in the Cerulean Sea