I thought this one was a little slow, but also heartwarming. Interesting that it is told from two different point of view.
When, their mother suddenly dies, fourteen year old Elric is forced to make a tough decision. He can either let his sister be sold into servitude, doomed to a life of cruelty, or he can whisk her away, defying his father, and the laws that govern his society. He decides on the later. He loves his sister after all, and knows that others won't accept her because of her developmental challenge. Elric can't understand why the world fails to understand his sister, but he himself also doesn't truly understand her. He sees her as happy, kind individual, but he doesn't try to see things from her perspective. This leads to misunderstandings and frustration for both. Neither Elric or Wynn can be really blamed for this; they are young, they didn't live together, and their world has no notion of educating for special needs. Even though we see all the ways in which this young man could have handled the situation better, we are still endeared to him because of his willingness to throw everything away to protect his sister, and because he learns from his mistakes. Wynn is just as well developed. In her chapters, she expresses her concerns, her beliefs, and a unique view of the world. She may be a little lost, but she is not helpless; she remembers what her mother taught her, and actively contributes to the journey.
The fantastical lingers at the edges of this story, hidden in seemingly fortunate occurrences, the actions of a chicken, and a song which guides the kids to the faerie realm. For most of the book, the author leaves us guessing who is right; this plays into the theme of perspective. While the setting and story are fantastical, Bailey bases the Silver Gate in a real-world reality. Her characters are crafted with poise and sensitivity, and her message that there is nothing wrong with those who have developmental challenges, is an encouraging one to see in a children's novel.
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