Wicked, the Book: is it age-appropriate for tweens/ teens?
Wicked: the book review
By Kimberly Petro of Petroville
Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked colors in the background and provides a sensational history for many of the characters in Baum’s classic 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . In a nutshell, it is the life story of Elphalba, The Wicked Witch of the West.
Parents beware: this book is no fairy tale. Wicked is a creative, enveloping and dark story that mature readers and deep thinkers alike will find as tantalizing as a gourmet feast for hungry imaginations.
I would recommend this book for ages 15 and up due to some sexual content* and adult situations. Be that as it may, because of the element of fantasy, the impossibility of the scenarios makes the level of concern less severe. Instead of taking everything in the book at face value, I would encourage all readers to search for and savor in the meaning around each and every captivating turn.
During the book, we grow to love the main character, Elphalba, who fights for tolerance, loves with her whole heart, teeters on the brink of despair but tries, in spite of her failures, to always live a good life. She is not portrayed as being wicked at all. In fact, her “wickedness” seems to be more of a misunderstanding or perhaps instead some predetermined accident.
I found Elphalba to be the heroine and not the villain who frightened me as a child in the movie The Wizard of Oz. She is a strong female character who champions equality and never changes her political and religious values to suit others despite her hard life. There is almost as much to be admired about our principal as there is to be pondered such as the ever present battle of good versus evil.
I would again warn parents that Wicked is not a child’s tale. The book has no neat and happy ending to offer. Instead, its reward comes from the opportunity for rich discussion prompted by the fascinating tapestry of storytelling. It’s much more of a book club kind of book than a solitary preteen adventure story. If your child wants to read it, I suggest that you embark on the journey first. I did and I enjoyed the read immensely.
*Sexual Content: (spoilers included)
- There is a traveling “Clock of the Time Dragon” which claims to be an oracle. It tells stories in villages throughout the book. The entertainment includes puppets having sex, committing adultery and acting out violently.
- In the first section of the book, Melena, Elphalba’s mother, has an affair with a traveling glassblower named Turtle Heart. She ends up bearing his child, Nessarose.
- In the second section, some of the male students go to “The Philosophy Club” where bizarre sexual acts are alluded to as well as described. None are extremely graphic but the implication of a threesome with a tiger exists.
- In the third section, after Elphalba leaves school and becomes an activist on the verge of terrorism, she falls in love with a married man and carries on a sexual affair.