We often see books and movies about going to another world, but what happens when the adventure ends? What happens to the characters when they come home? That’s what Every Heart a Doorway is about.
Spanning only 173 pages, this is a very short book. Yet it manages to say much more than just the words on the pages. It presents a different side of portal fantasy, one that deals with the cruel pain of experiencing a true sense of belonging just to have it ripped away. Stripped of one’s significance. Banished to a life of conformity, not knowing when, or even if there is a way back home.
Hope hurts. That’s what you need to learn, and fast, if you don’t want it to cut you open from the inside out. Hope is bad. Hope means you keep on holding to things that won’t ever be so again, and so you bleed an inch at a time until there’s nothing left.”
Every Heart a Doorway features an asexual main character as well as a trans side character. I feel like I had a real connection with the characters and grew attached to them in a very short amount of time. They’re all different people, but they have something in common that defies categories. They are tied together by their experiences, the unfairness and pain of being rejected by the one place they love the most.
Despite the richness of the story, I must admit that I tried starting it several times before getting past the first two chapters. The writing in the beginning was just too flowery for my tastes. But when I finally got past those first pages it drastically improved. It’s a quick read with lots to say, but it’s a bit too short. I wanted more from the characters than they were able to give. Yet I gave it the full five stars, because I relate so much to that longing for somewhere else. The sense of belonging in another world, accompanied by the frustration and sadness of uncertainty in waiting for something that might not even be possible. For me it’s the overall feeling of the story and idea that makes it so beautiful.