Goodreads: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel
Series: Tyme #1
Published: April 28, 2015
In all of Tyme, from the Redlands to the Grey, no one is as lucky as Rapunzel. She lives in a magic tower that obeys her every wish; she reads wonderful books starring herself as the heroine; her hair is the longest, most glorious thing in the world. And she knows this because Witch tells her so—her beloved Witch, who protects her from evil princes, the dangerous ground under the tower, even unhappy thoughts. Rapunzel can’t imagine any other life.
Then a thief named Jack climbs into her room to steal one of her enchanted roses. He’s the first person Rapunzel’s ever met who isn’t completely charmed by her (well, the first person she’s met at all, really), and he is infuriating– especially when he hints that Witch isn’t telling her the whole truth. Driven by anger at Jack and her own nameless fears, Rapunzel descends to the ground for the first time, and finds a world filled with more peril than Witch promised … and more beauty, wonder, and adventure than she could have dreamed.
Grounded is an immensely imaginative take on the story of Rapunzel, exploring friendship, family, and the meaning of bravery.
In this tale, Rapunzel freely leaves her tower when she believes the witch (whom she fondly calls simply “Witch”) is in danger, and that it’s up to her to keep the only family she has ever known safe. Her journey brings her, and new acquaintance Jack the Beanstalker, clear across the land of Tyme, through places and people she never even knew existed. The journey is of one of personal realization, as much as one of action, as Rapunzel encounters people who have distinctly different thoughts about Witch than she does. She must learn to reconcile what she already knew about Witch and what she learns before she can return home.
The book takes places in a wonderfully imagined fantasy land, where Stalkers fill the land with danger, fairies grant wishes, and acorns can turn into just about anything you would ever want. However, as grand as the setting and fantasy draw of the narrative is, it really shines when it looks at the relationship between Rapunzel and Witch. This is an immensely complicated and nuanced thing, but Morrison tackles it head on, as well as some huge questions about morality, love, and life after death. Other family relationships (for example, between Jack and his sister) add to the rich tapestry of the novel.
My only annoyance with the book was the large chunk of time set aside for other characters to explain things to Rapunzel, from what a mother is to what the ocean is to what sex is (which I guess was supposed to be humorous, but it comes across more as a joke for adults than middle school readers). I understand Rapunzel has spent the entirety of her life in a single room in a tower, with only Witch for company and only books to read that were curated by Witch (and so don’t mention things like mothers, so Rapunzel will never wonder why she doesn’t have one), but the motif gets tiring. I could have done without pages upon pages of characters explaining perfectly ordinary things. Luckily, this stops after a while, and the focus returns to the plot at large.
This was a perfectly fun read, engrossing and imaginative but full of important questions and complex themes.