In the first half of the first chapter ofÂ A Wizard Abroad, I was wrong, and this is going to be glorious. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to readÂ Young Wizards.Â
Oh, I have so much to talk about.
First, WOW. WOW, I WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO GETTING THE PREMISE OF THIS BOOK RIGHT. The shock of Kit and Nita being separated still hasnâ€™t gone away. Itâ€™s such a weird concept becauseâ€¦ well, theyâ€™re both an integral part of theÂ Young WizardsÂ experience. I canâ€™t imagine it any other way! In that sense, I recognize the storytelling trope that Duane uses here, one that feels very familiar to my teen self because I read so many books about parents forcing their teenage children to go on unwanted vacations. The context is different, though, and thatâ€™s important to note. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with using this trope anyway! Itâ€™s an easy way for me to feel like Iâ€™m on recognizable ground.
But I had so manyÂ feelingsÂ about this text. I get why Nitaâ€™s parents want their daughter to take a break from Kit. Itâ€™s not out of cruelty but genuine concern. Hell, thereâ€™s definitely some fear there, too! Their daughter is aÂ wizard, yâ€™all, and sheâ€™s been on countless missions that donâ€™t make much sense and seem preposterously dangerous. Sheâ€™s spent ages with Kit, and while their friendship is healthy and mature, I can see how the Callahans want their daughter to do something else â€“ anything else, really â€“ that will give her a chance to see the world as one that doesnâ€™t have to do with wizardry.
The conflict here, though, is complicated. The whole worldÂ isÂ wizardry, and Nita deftly argues that sending her to Ireland for six weeks isnâ€™t going to make wizardry disappear. She took the Oath, so wizardry is now inescapable. Thatâ€™s something that Nitaâ€™s parents canâ€™t truly understand because theyâ€™re not wizards. I wonder, then, if theyâ€™ll be disappointed by sending Nita away. Thatâ€™s a whole lot of speculation, so I think Iâ€™ll save that for later. The point being: this is not going to be the trip the Callahans think it will be. We know this! This is aÂ Young WizardsÂ book. Itâ€™s gonna take very little time for things to get wacky.
This first half of the chapter brought out other thoughts that Duane might not have intended. There was a part of me that felt almostÂ jealousÂ of Nita. At fourteen, Iâ€™d been to a handful of states, and Iâ€™d flown to Hawaii a few times to visit my fatherâ€™s side of the family. But travel in any significant sense â€“ across the country orÂ outÂ of the country – was literally inconceivable to me. I couldnâ€™t do anything but fantasize about it, to read entries about other places in encyclopedias or in science fiction books or in Jane Austen novelsâ€¦ you get the idea. If I had been offered the chance to travelÂ without my parentsÂ to a foreign country, I would have wept with utter joy.
But we all approach this shit from different places. I completely understood Nitaâ€™s irritation, and I donâ€™t want this piece to invalidate that at all. She deserves to feel like her summer has been derailed and that her parents donâ€™t really trust her to make decisions for herself. I see that, and I recognize. Plus, itâ€™s not like the Callahans are rich by any means. Yeah, a transatlantic flight is a huge deal in this day and age, but I think that nuance matters when discussing this. If we examine Nitaâ€™s reaction as one of privilege, we can see how she doesnâ€™t seem to consider how lucky she is that at fourteen, she evenÂ getsÂ to make a trip like this. Who else gets to? Hell, I didnâ€™t travel to Ireland until I was over twice Nitaâ€™s age! (AND IT WAS SO LOVELY, I NEED TO GO BACK FOR A LONGER TRIP.)
Yet for Nita, travel like this seems soÂ smallÂ to her. I had to remind myself (and the text helped me!) that sheâ€™d traveled to ANOTHER GALAXY in the last book, that she takes frequent trips to the moon, and that the concept of distance is completely skewed for her. It doesnâ€™t mean the same thing as it does for me. These factors inform her reaction to her summer plans. The frustration overpowers any possible enjoyment, despite that I expect she actuallyÂ willÂ have a great time once she gets there.
Itâ€™s going to be a challenge, however. Especially without Kit. God, how is that going toÂ feel? Again, heâ€™s such a huge part of the fabric ofÂ Young WizardsÂ that Iâ€™ll have to change my expectations for how this book will unfold. Kit challenges Nita, and as a pair, they are better wizards. Will she need to find another wizard to achieve this again? What will this experience be like without Tom and Carl to go to? What cultural differences are there between American wizards and Irish ones? HOW DO CULTURAL MYTHS IN IRELAND RELATE TO WIZARDRY???
If anything, this introductory chapter excites me. Itâ€™s scary, too, to know how far Nita will be from home without her parents, her sister, or her best friend. Iâ€™ve traveled to the UK/Europe twice now, and Iâ€™mÂ veryÂ familiar with the culture shock that comes from traveling to places that are so wholly different than your own. But thatâ€™s also what Iâ€™m looking forward to experiencing through this book, and I am already aching to tell you TONS OF STORIES.
Be prepared, cousins.
Diane Duane is still offering a massive discount on the first 9 books in theÂ Young WizardsÂ series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:
Mark Links Stuff
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