Furthermore

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Furthermore Book Poster Image
Kids race to save imprisoned dad in magical adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Story places a high value on learning, research, exploration, using maps and your brain.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of finding yourself, discovering your unique talents and putting them to work, family, love, friendship, loyalty, empathy, belonging, and being prepared to do better. A recurring question of when to think the best of people and when to think the worst, especially after you've experienced both.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alice and Oliver are both believably flawed and do a lot of maturing during the story. Alice's father is a bit idealized; her mother is cruel and negligent after the loss of her husband. Other seemingly kind characters turn out to be deadly, and sometimes lifesaving kindness comes from unexpected sources.

Violence

Characters pursued by residents of Furthermore, who want to eat them. A character is missing an arm for much of the story. Characters often hit one another; one character in particular hits another more than once, with fists, feet, and, once, a shovel.

Sex

Characters hold hands a lot, but it's more companionable than romantic. Strong hints of a future romance.

Language

Made-up swears words, such as "no good ferenbleeding skyhole," "she didn't give a cat's bottom what anyone thought of her," and "it's taken you this long to gather the gooseberries to tell me?"

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult character is dependent on a type of magic berry, which her daughter collects for her.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Furthermore, the middle-grade debut by Tahereh Mafi, author of the best-selling dystopian YA Shatter Me series, is the story of a 12-year-old social-outcast girl and a 13-year-old boy who embark on a quest to find her long-lost father. Themes include losing a parent, being different, manipulating people, and how it feels to work really hard at something and still fail. The young characters learn a lot about themselves, life, and their loved ones. Violence (hand-to-hand fighting, kidnapping, imprisonment, dismemberment, and the constant threat of being eaten) is essential to the story, but there's little gore. Expect some friendly hand-holding.

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What's the story?

About to turn 12 in FURTHERMORE, Alice Queensmeadow has a lot to deal with -- starting with the fact that she's the only colorless child ever born in the riotously colorful land of Ferenwood. Also, the disappearance of her beloved father three years earlier sent her mother into a depression, and Alice acted out in school so much she got expelled. Now her onetime schoolmate Oliver says he knows where her father is: He's being held prisoner in the scary land of FURTHERMORE. Oliver claims to be on a mission to rescue him and to need help from Alice. There's no time to be lost as the kids pursue their search -- and try to avoid being killed and eaten by the locals.

Is it any good?

Tahereh Mafi's debut middle-grade story packs tween-girl-relatable issues into the compelling tale of a 12-year-old misfit's quest for her long-lost father in a magical, potentially deadly world. In Furthermore, surprises are many and rarely good, and protagonist Alice's traveling companion is famous for his lies. It's a promising variation on the popular quest theme, fraught with perils from spells to butcher knives and thrills, wisecracks, and real-life issues like the loss of a parent and being different.

There's a lot of world-building, which will charm some readers and get in the way for others. Likewise, the narrator's voice is alternately gushy, ditzy, fussy, condescending, and snarky. Still, it doesn't take much imagination to suspect there's more to come in future installments.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the theme of children going on a quest to find a lost parent, as Alice does in Furthermore. Do you know other stories about this? What do you think makes this such a popular and compelling premise?

  • When people are mean to you and exclude you, does it make you want to be part of things with them even more? Or do you decide they're not worth your time and energy and go do something else?

  • Would you like to have the power to make people do whatever you wanted? How would you avoid the problems Oliver discovered in the story?

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