Jen Inchiostro

the daily life of a nerdy mom

The Museum of Extraordinary Things- A review

I picked this up on a complete whim after a bender of Alice Hoffman I went on last summer. This copy was well worn, practically falling off the binding in spots- and that always makes me curious. It means a lot of people read it! I had it on loan for MONTHS- had to return it once and check it back out too.

I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I read another Alice Hoffman – The Invisible Hour- back in September, and though that was ALSO great… it did not hold the same Practical Magic Series Spell over me.

Finally, I got the notice that this had to be back to the library in 5 days- I dove in. I stalled. I found myself in a situation I am rarely in. I loved the characters but didn’t know where the story was going and stopped wanting to know. I decided to just return the book and pick it up later- when I was less distracted. We were recovering from covid and I just didn’t have the brain space.

After returning it to the library, we stopped in to a thrift store across the street. I was in the store for all of 2 minutes when my son walked up to me holding- this book. As Alice Hoffman is such a magical author- and I am such a magic believer- I took it as a sign and started reading again. I took it in smaller reading sessions. Not trying to binge or “get through it” just appreciating the story. A little here and there- especially before bed.

My Goodreads Review:

The immediate character buy in was there- however, I struggled to really dive into the story that was being delicately woven. Alice Hoffman’s writing always has such beautiful prose that when I begin, I almost get lost in all the details and in the world building itself. Putting it all together in my mind slows me up. I almost felt bored the first 100 pages… but I am SO GLAD I kept reading. I say this to encourage anyone else- I NORMALLY read a book of this length in under 2-3 days. I kept setting this one down, it ended up taking 2 weeks. Lots to unpack and lots to look up and explore if you are a history person. (I am)

After that, I felt so connected to Ezekiel and Coralie. I felt deeply for them and each of their deep sadness and loneliness- Especially Ezekiel- almost as if he was an exactly the same yet COMPLETE opposite of Holden Caulfield. The opposite of privilege and yet feeling unworthy and alone in the world. I FELT all the characters in this way- each story told, felt so familiar- because they were all so INCREDIBLY human. Seeking belonging and family. What is unconditional love?

Then the second half caught me in my own river of emotion and I devoured every detail. I felt an aching sadness at what New York lost in its urbanization. I felt enraged and charged up around the issues of workers rights. Then… the ending. I didn’t breathe the last 60 pages. I cried. This book will stick with me.

Also- the blue thread… always the magic of the blue thread- the layers of its involvement in this book will stick with me for a long time.

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