In the first half of the first chapter of A Wizard Abroad, I was wrong, and this is going to be glorious. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
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 hasn’t gone away. It’s such a weird concept because… well, they’re both an integral part of the Young Wizards experience. I can’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 that’s important to note. There’s nothing wrong with using this trope anyway! It’s an easy way for me to feel like I’m on recognizable ground.
But I had so many feelings about this text. I get why Nita’s parents want their daughter to take a break from Kit. It’s not out of cruelty but genuine concern. Hell, there’s definitely some fear there, too! Their daughter is a wizard, y’all, and she’s been on countless missions that don’t make much sense and seem preposterously dangerous. She’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 – anything else, really – that will give her a chance to see the world as one that doesn’t have to do with wizardry.
The conflict here, though, is complicated. The whole world is wizardry, and Nita deftly argues that sending her to Ireland for six weeks isn’t going to make wizardry disappear. She took the Oath, so wizardry is now inescapable. That’s something that Nita’s parents can’t truly understand because they’re not wizards. I wonder, then, if they’ll be disappointed by sending Nita away. That’s a whole lot of speculation, so I think I’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 a Young Wizards book. It’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 almost jealous of Nita. At fourteen, I’d been to a handful of states, and I’d flown to Hawaii a few times to visit my father’s side of the family. But travel in any significant sense – across the country or out of the country – was literally inconceivable to me. I couldn’t do anything but fantasize about it, to read entries about other places in encyclopedias or in science fiction books or in Jane Austen novels… you get the idea. If I had been offered the chance to travel without my parents to a foreign country, I would have wept with utter joy.
But we all approach this shit from different places. I completely understood Nita’s irritation, and I don’t want this piece to invalidate that at all. She deserves to feel like her summer has been derailed and that her parents don’t really trust her to make decisions for herself. I see that, and I recognize. Plus, it’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 Nita’s reaction as one of privilege, we can see how she doesn’t seem to consider how lucky she is that at fourteen, she even gets to make a trip like this. Who else gets to? Hell, I didn’t travel to Ireland until I was over twice Nita’s age! (AND IT WAS SO LOVELY, I NEED TO GO BACK FOR A LONGER TRIP.)
Yet for Nita, travel like this seems so small to her. I had to remind myself (and the text helped me!) that she’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 doesn’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 actually will have a great time once she gets there.
It’s going to be a challenge, however. Especially without Kit. God, how is that going to feel? Again, he’s such a huge part of the fabric of Young Wizards that I’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. It’s scary, too, to know how far Nita will be from home without her parents, her sister, or her best friend. I’ve traveled to the UK/Europe twice now, and I’m very familiar with the culture shock that comes from traveling to places that are so wholly different than your own. But that’s also what I’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 the Young Wizards series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:
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