Beautiful inside and out. That’s the best way I can think to describe Futhermore by Tahereh Mafi.
This is a book that is bursting with color: Brightly painted worlds, colorful personalities, and vivid messages. It’s the type of book that makes everything around you look vibrant and interesting and just…colorful.
It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a MG book this much. Unlike so many books geared towards young readers, Furthermore keeps it’s child-like joy without being dumbed down or shallow. It’s everything an MG novel (or any novel, honestly) should be. If you haven’t read it, you’re going to want to by the time this review is done.
Color and magic are entwined to form the very fabric of Ferenwood. Color is magic, magic is talent, talent is what gives a person purpose within the little village of Ferenwood. Alice Queensmeadow’s is beautiful. That’s what her father always told her. Maybe she doesn’t have any color. Maybe her skin is pale and her colorless, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have magic. It certainly doesn’t mean that she has no purpose.
That’s what made Father so important to Alice: He believe in that so much that it almost made up for nobody else believing it, not even herself. But Father has disappeared, Mother is impossible to get along with, and nobody seems to think that her magic is important enough to make her fit to go on an adventure. Every 12-year-old is assigned one upon showing their magic. Every 12-year-old but her.
But perhaps Oliver’s adventure is enough for both of them. His adventure is to find Father, but he can’t do it without her, which is perhaps a little bit unfortunate given that they’ve never gotten along. Together, they enter the land of Furthermore, a dangerous place where magic is not something beautiful and generous, but vicious and twisted. Up can be down, paper comes to life, and visitors are consumed for their magic.
Alice soon finds that her wit and Oliver’s talent won’t be enough to get Father out alive. She will need to come to terms with the purpose and magic hidden beneath her colorless skin and learn to love the parts of herself that only Father has ever seen as beautiful.
This book is built around and made out of color. Everything about it is vibrant: the writing style is beautifully colorful, the characters are splashes of sunshine, the world-building is brilliantly rich.
Ferenwood is the type of fictional place that I would love to live in. I want to curl up in one of their colorful houses, go for walks by the sparkling lakes, and visit the marketplace to buy various magical items. And Furthermore? I wouldn’t want to live there, but I’d love to travel through it’s crazy upside down towns. It felt a bit similar to Lewis Carrol’s Wonderland, though in some ways much better.
Everything about this book put a smile on my face, but these are the top 3 parts (aside from the afore mentioned world-building):
1) The funny yet gorgeous writing style. As a writer, occasionally I’ll read a book where the writing voice is so uniquely vivid that I stop and think, “That. I want to be that type of author.” The kind who’s style is so special to her that you can almost feel the author whispering the story into your ear. The narrative perfectly matched the lighthearted, colorful, yet touching mood of the story that it’s impossible to tell which was shaped after which. This book is worth the read simply for all of the stunning descriptions of the colorful world and the beautifully phrased or funny sentences.
2) The sweet characters. The pigheaded, seemingly self-confident yet secretly insecure Alice who just wants Father. She has a heartbreaking secret regarding the magic inside of her that, while elemental to the storyline, is not one that you fully realize until about halfway through. The talented Oliver whose gift of persuasion means that he has never had a true friend. His relationship with Alice is both funny and touching: She doesn’t take any of his lies and he keeps her grounded. They need each other, but neither one sees it. Father is a character that we don’t get to meet until the very end of the story, and he has such a clearly defined personality from almost the very beginning. Impressive. Mother is a fascinating character who originally just looks like a bad parent, but soon begin to realize that she has far more to her. Every single character has a secret that is slowly revealed throughout the story, and every single character grows deeper and deeper the farther you get into the story.
3) The heartfelt themes. Gah. The beauty of this story. Through Alice, it shows how to love even the parts of you that you think make you less because those are actually the parts of you that make you…you. Through Oliver, Mafi illustrates the importance of being honest and not losing yourself in the little mistruths and supposedly harmless lies that are so rampant in society. Through Father, it’s shown that unconditional love can make all the difference in a person’s life. All of these themes (and more) are woven beautifully into the book, not preachy but irrevocably and perfectly a central part of the story.
Every part of this book worked together to depict a plot full of color: passionate, heartfelt, vivid colors.
Whenever I glance at my bookshelf and see Furthermore, I smile. It’s the type of story that stays with you, a warm little spot inside that lights up every time you think about it. It’s a book that, without even knowing you, I really, really want you to read. Please read it.
Have you read Furthermore or any other novels by Tahereh Mafi? Leave your thoughts below! I’d love to hear them.