BOOK REVIEW: “Adaline” by Denise Kawaii

A powerful, thought-provoking tale

“Adaline” is told in what appears at first to be a simple, linear way. As it unfolds, the original world and vivid imagery add layers of meaning and build not just a physical world but a psychological one as well. Kawaii has something to say and we should listen.

Adaline itself is a construct of seemingly identical clones, raising, working, serving, and running their world along strict guidelines. Entering the institution with one of the boys, the reader learns and experiences the rigid life with him. No one has a name—they are numbered according to their position in the queue of healthy births—and there is no room for creative or unique expression. The only differentiation made between the clones, after a season of testing and training, is a general classification that slots them toward work categories. The daily routines are designed to weed out any individuality that would threaten the system which exists, apparently, to maintain itself. An excessively totalitarian environment that governs more than daily lives, it’s designed and succeeds in crushing distinctive thought and personality.

Is there more to a person than the physical body? Can a child who looks exactly like everyone else and is being controlled the same as every other living being actually develop as an individual?

Kawaii’s resounding answer is ‘yes’. Thousands of identical clones did not lead to identical personalities or choices.

One man, a teacher, identifies and nurtures the boy’s inner world. Kawaii vividly captures the impact of true mentoring, especially in the absence of parenting, as well as affirming the value of having a will strong enough to survive a hostile environment.

The story is told well, building suspense, keeping you guessing, and dealing a strong finish. And though I’m satisfied with the ending, it left me with a multitude of unanswered questions and high expectations for the sequel.

“Adaline” is rich with thought-provoking ideas. It would be a valuable tool for parents, teachers or mentors, to read and discuss with adolescents—although it gets intense in a few places and some of the images may be upsetting for sensitive youth with visual minds.

Educators: FORGET dated, so-called classics like “Catcher in the Rye” or “Lord of the Flies” that no longer have the edge that spoke in the previous century. You should be assigning books like this one, that speak to the deepest questions and concerns young people have today.

Kawaii deserves to be discovered and snapped up by a major publisher. She’s about to win a place on my short list of “I’ll read anything by this author”.

I love this book.

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