Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor – Review and Giveaway

February 29, 2016 Giveaways (Ended), Reviews 19 ★★★★½

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor - Review and Giveaway

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor – Review and GiveawayNora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by Clean Teen Publishing on 2/29/16
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Blog Tour
My content rating: YA (Violence, Abuse)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

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My Take copy3

This is not my normal type of read, but I have to tell you that I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to read it. I have to confess that it was the Peter Pan reference that first got my attention. The book has some very loose ties to the Peter Pan story, but I hadn’t reread the blurb before reading the book and hadn’t noticed any but the incredibly obvious ones – this is not a retelling (though now that I’m thinking back on it, the ties are certainly there, and I’m thinking of more and more of them – this is one of the first times I wish I’d read the blurb right before reading the book so I would have caught more of them). But that was fine with me because the book easily stood on its own – it didn’t need a fairy tale to fall back on.

What Fed My Addiction:

  • A story that needs to be told. This story is told in parts at first, and Kettle’s portion of the story is one we don’t hear a lot about, especially in YA literature: how Japanese Americans were treated after World War II. In this part of the story, you get Kettle’s story of how he is struggling with being an outsider in society, trying his hardest to survive in a country that doesn’t want him because of his parentage. Kettle lived a good portion of his life in a Japanese internment camp – a part of the history of WWII that we often ignore (we prefer to focus on the inhumanity of Hitler instead of admitting to our own). Kettle is doing his best to scrape together enough of a living to keep himself and the band of Lost Boys he’s collected (they call themselves the Kings) together and alive. It’s not easy, and he has to face the judgments and the prejudices of his fellow US citizens while doing it. But is ever-hopeful and he won’t give up – and he won’t resort to stealing (though scrounging through garbage is definitely a necessity). Kettle’s life was fascinating, in a horrifying sort of way, and I’m so glad I read his story.
  • Chillingly painfulThen there was Nora’s story. Hers was often almost more painful and emotional, simply because it was seen more directly. Where it took a little while to truly understand Kettle’s situation, Nora’s painful reality was clear from the very beginning. Her life with an abusive father was incredibly disturbing (and uncomfortable to read about sometimes – be prepared). I was appalled at the actions of this man who, on the outside, seemed to be fighting for social justice while perpetrating such atrocities in his own home. I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to find out what happened to Nora in the end.
  • The selves we hide. This book highlighted how we have this darkness in us as humans. In Kettle’s story, he talked about how people who would think themselves good could become their basest selves because of prejudice and act inhumanely, even with evil. Then there was Nora’s dad, who cared about the injustices against Japanese Americans, but couldn’t control the demons inside him – he was a completely different person with his family than he was to the world. And, unfortunately, this is true for so many of us (hopefully to a much lesser degree, but still). I found the commentary on the state of the human soul fascinating.
  • World’s collide. Just a warning – it wasn’t until about 65% into the book that Nora and Kettle’s stories truly came together – but it was worth the wait! From the very moment that these two found each other, I was mesmerized, and the story took on a whole new, thrilling dimension!

What Left Me Wanting More:

  • Separate stories at first. Like I said, the two stories were told mostly separately with just thin ties between them up until about 65% of the book. While I appreciated both stories, I was more connected to Nora’s, and I sometimes felt like I wanted to hurry past Kettle’s part to find out what was going to happen to Nora (which I shouldn’t have – because while Kettle’s story was slower-building, it was just as important!).

This story was beautifully painful and haunting, and it should not be missed! While this book says it’s a Paper Stars Novel, it can definitely be read as a standalone – though I’m eager to see what Taylor has planned for future books in this series. I give Nora & Kettle 4.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the author via XPresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Free-gift

About Elise Kova

Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

Author Links:
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19 Responses to “Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor – Review and Giveaway”

  1. Ashtyn @ Wonderland's Reader

    I’m reading this book right now! I agree, both stories are incredibly important and often really hard to read. There’s so many parts that have just hurt my heart to get through but I think it’s so necessary to be aware of the things that happened during this time.

    Lovely review! I can’t wait to finish this one.

  2. Alecia

    This is not my usual read but the plot has me really drawn into it! It’s definitely an interesting concept and I’d love to get my hands on a copy.

  3. Jaime Lester

    Finally, I get to read a review of this book that I am literally seeing EVERYWHERE the past few days. For me, I will admit that seeing the Peter Pan reference turned me off a little bit. I love Peter Pan, but I have read several PP stories that just haven’t worked for me. Now, after reading your review, I am much more interested in Nora and Kettle. So, Thank you for that! Oh… one more thing, I am such a fan of the cover. Absolutely adorable!

  4. Debbie

    Many people have been blogging about this book and all its wonderfulness! It is definitely not a genre of book that I’d normally go for but it does sound amazing!! Great review and I loom forward to reading 🙂

  5. jazmen

    I seen this book around a few times and I never bothered to read the blurb. It sounds like it might be something I need to pick up. Great review!

  6. Lois @ My Midnight Musing

    This has been one of my most anticipated books of the year. I always find the post war period to be fascinating because the world is trying to rebuild itself but the prejudices and mistrust and still very much present. I’m quite excited to see how Nora and Kettle come together and how they deal with the current situations they face in their own lives. I’ll definitely be picking up this book ASAP.

    Lois @ My Midnight Musing recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: Characters people like but I don’t
  7. Alisha Sienkiel

    I really enjoyed reading this excerpt and I can’t wait to read this book! Thanks for the great giveaway! 🙂

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