"Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”
I had high expectations of this book. Maybe they were too high. I hoped for a book experience like Patrick Ness’ “A Monster Calls”. That is not what I got. Instead I constantly had the feeling of reading a book for school. “The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” did not stand out.
“The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” takes place in “Edinburgh, 1874. Born with a frozen heart, Jack is near death when his mother abandons him to the care of Dr. Madeleine—witch doctor, midwife, protector of orphans—who saves Jack by placing a cuckoo clock in his chest. And it is in her orphanage that Jack grows up among tear-filled flasks, eggs containing memories, and a man with a musical spine.” Jack has to follow three rules: “FIRSTLY: don’t touch the hands of your cuckoo-clock heart. SECONDLY: master your anger. THIRDLY: never, ever fall in love. For if you do, the hour hand will poke through your skin, your bones will shatter, and your heart will break once more.”
Of course Jack falls in love. And that is where my problems with the books start. Jack is way too young to fall so madly in love as it is portrayed in the book. Could he have a crush on the girl from the very moment that he laid his eyes on her? Sure. Could he have stayed so madly in love with her after just that one moment even so he had not seen her for years? I do not think so. Especially not at the age of ten!
And all the symbols and metaphors in the book! The whole time I was reading I could hear my teacher asking me how this scene or that action could be interpreted. It was so frustrating. It destroyed the whole book for me. I could not get into the mood the book was trying to create.
The writing was fast. The book is so short and covers so many years, that it had to be fast. I cannot complain about that. It was easy to read. But unfortunately that also made it hard to connect with the characters. At times I felt a little sympathy for Jack but then he acted to desperate again that I could only shake my head.
“The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” is a quick read that sounds more promising than it actually is. If you are still interested in the story but not necessarily want to read it: I found out by accident that there is a movie adaption in the theaters at the moment.