Mark Reads ‘A Wizard Abroad’: Chapter 2, Part I

In the first half of the second chapter of A Wizard Abroad, Nita begins to settle in to her new life at Aunt Annie’s farm. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

I’ll admit straight up that there’s a very personal reason I enjoyed reading this: it works entirely as a fantasy for me. At fourteen years of age, there was probably nothing I desired more than independence, the kind that comes from parents who trust you to start making decisions on your own. That’s not something that is ever explicitly addressed in the text here, though I’d argue that the Callahans’ trust for their daughter is a huge subtext in the previous two books and the start of this one. It’s a relationship that I recognize happens all the time, but I do not recognize it in any personal sense. I did not have that life. At fourteen, I was not allowed to leave the house unattended unless I was walking to high school or doing Cross Country meets. Even then, my mother still found ways to hover, to inject herself into my life in increasingly invasive ways.

I’ve found over the years that one of the quickest ways to bond with a person is when I discover that they had strict, overprotective parents, too. It’s like we have this silent, intense community, and the second we meet another person with a similar upbringing, we must spend an hour or so comparing stories, like we’d been through a war together but in different battalions or companies. But for many of us, it actually was quite traumatic for any number of reasons. Yet one of the key commonalities is that we felt the world was passing us by. My friends got to go on dates, have boyfriends and girlfriends, spend afternoons at their friends’ places doing homework, coordinate group projects outside of class, and have entire social lives that weren’t on a school campus. Many of my friends – even though they were as poor or far poorer than my family was – got to travel unattended, or visit friends and relatives without the eye of their parents hawkishly watching them.

I found myself immersed in this narration not just because it’s good or because Nita is such a dynamic, fascinating character; I got to imagine what it would have been like if I had been able to travel to a foreign country and have freedom. That’s probably the most striking element to the first half of this chapter. Nita is respected by her aunt to eat when she needs to, sleep when she needs to, and explore as she needs to. There’s a moment here where Annie tells Nita that she can head out down to the local town if she wants (ON A BIKE!!), and it seemed such an alien concept to me. At fourteen, I wasn’t even allowed to go to the park across the street from my house by myself. Biking to a city miles away in Ireland? COMPLETELY OUT OF THE QUESTION.

I’m telling y’all about this not out of any need for sympathy. (I’m certainly making up for lost time these past few years.) I just love the idea that we each approach a text so uniquely, and Diane Duane brought this out in me. Nita’s getting to do something that’s already spectacular to me, and NOT MUCH HAS HAPPENED.

Oh, who am I kidding? Stuff is totally HAPPENING.

GHOSTS!

I am not surprised that wizardry has an “answer” for ghosts and that it is so freakin’ cool. Energy left behind from violent emotions that replays over the years!!! PLEASE TELL ME THAT THERE’S A GHOST STORY IN A WIZARD ABROAD. I mean, technically there already is one, since Nita experienced a flash of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers, who camped in the area hundreds of years before. But I also admit to wanting more. Because ghosts.

Size

Look, it’s even more fitting that I’m writing about this while still in Texas because everything is fucking massive in this state. In general, things really are bigger here in America, from our portion sizes, to our appliances, to our cars (WHY, YOU DON’T NEED THAT, WHY ARE YOU DRIVING THAT MONSTROSITY), to our homes and apartments, and the list goes on and on and on. That was another noteworthy thing about traveling abroad for the first time. The showers were weird. So were the sinks. And the bathrooms. And even the beds. I wasn’t used to it! And I’d stayed at plenty of smaller hotels and hostels over the years, and I’ve rarely had “big” apartments since I started renting years and years ago, but like… what is with those showers that are mostly bathtubs with a tiny bit of glass that poorly blocks the water from getting everywhere in the bathroom? Why are some showers Rube Goldberg devices when it comes to turning them on? HOW IS THAT TOILET SO TINY?

Responsibility

Amidst having so much freedom – indeed, literally all the freedom a fourteen-year-old girl could ever ask for – Nita still sticks to her wizardly responsibilities. SHE IS SO MATURE, WHY CAN’T HER PARENTS SEE THAT. Actually, I think they do, and it’s part of what scares them about her. She’s grown up so fast, and it’s still astounding to me that nearly two-and-a-half years have passed since the events in the first book. But that’s a good thing. Nita’s expanding maturity is a rewarding thing to read because we get to see her shifting view of the world. When she hears about a fox hunt, she uses wizardry to warn the local fox that they should leave the immediate vicinity and tell their people to do the same. It’s how she respects her Oath to take care of living things and minimize suffering and pain as much as she can.

THAT’S WHAT A TEENAGER IS DOING. Well, and also talking to horses, which is an absolute dream of mine. I LOVE HORSES SO MUCH. Horse #5 and I would become best friends, I PROMISE YOU.

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:

http://bit.ly/markreadsYW

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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