In the first half of the sixth chapter of A Wizard Alone, I WAS NOT READY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I EVEN GUESSED THAT NITA’S DREAMS HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH DARRYL AND I WAS STILL SHOCKED BY THIS. Oh my god, this whole scene is just so good, and I wish I could just say that and abandon this review so I could then rush off to read the second half of this chapter. I WANT TO DO IT SO BADLY. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT NITA WILL TELL KIT.
But seriously, let’s talk about this dream, since it reveals a whole more about what Darryl’s been going through. I’m gonna start specifically with the first thing that Darryl says out loud:
“You’re so sad,” the clown said. “I wish you wouldn’t be.”
Which could be read both as Darryl wishing Nita wasn’t so sad, but also as a request. Even Nita realizes that the pain she’s been radiating has affected Darryl, who is overstimulated as it is by what the Lone One has been doing to him. That’s not to say she shouldn’t feel pain, of course, but somehow, she’s been transported to his world, a place he’s constructed in order to deal with the Lone One and the world outside. There’s that incredible moment where Darryl shows her, for a brief flash, what it’s like to experience the world as he does. Which isn’t an awful thing by itself, and Darryl communicates that, too:
…Nita was splashed with a quick flicker-rush of images and sounds: dawns and sunsets running confusedly together, people rushing hither and yon, daily life like something that flogged you with too much light and color and detail and noise, speech that read as shouting… everything tangled in a rush of painful, hard-to-manage perception. But for the clown the painw as welcome, a lifeline of sorts. Things aren’t perfect, but I’m here. I’ve hung on this long because I knew something was coming. And now it’s arrived, I’m not going away without a fight –
It’s incredible, and I love that Duane doesn’t say that everything is terrible all of the time. However, I was crushed by the fact that this all came upon Darryl without the sort of introduction that Nita and Kit got. Maybe even the Powers That Be are unprepared to deal with an autistic kid properly, because they sure as hell didn’t even tell Darryl that he was a wizard. As far as I could tell, he just thought that this was his life, not that it was part of a whole thing, you know? He makes no mention of the Oath at any point in this conversation. He wears a “mask” while talking to Nita, and once he sheds it (IN THE SADDEST WAY POSSIBLE, HELP), the two of them begin to speak more plainly to each other. This particular exchange is what unnerved me the most:
“Being out and about in a world full of cool people is the best part of being a wizard.” She swallowed. “Or just a person.”
“Am I a wizard?” he said, a little sadly.
Now, I initially read that as Darryl being confused by the very idea of it. He couldn’t possibly be a wizard! Except that I think that the sadness Duane notes is meant to be a statement of inadequacy. He doesn’t think he’s good enough, does he? Is there no one in his life assuring him that he’s MORE than good enough? (Is that who the Shadows might be?) The fact that Darryl was already isolated from others and then given an Ordeal that would isolate him further seems so terribly unfair. And yet, he’s risen to the occasion, trying his hardest to persist, to enjoy his wizardry as he discovers it, to fight the Lone Power through his ingenious method of deceiving It.
I also just want him to get help. This conversation was so thrilling to me because finally, he got to tell someone else a little bit of what he was going through, and that’s a big deal to me. Ah, what is Nita gonna say to Kit? How are they gonna approach him the next time? I WANT MORE, RIGHT NOW.
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