I had enjoyed the tales of Pearl Swinton and her struggles with ‘visions’ as a young girl in Caroline Allen’s first book of the Elemental Journey series. But I definitely enjoyed this book far more. Maybe it was just an adult Pearl and her adventures that were interesting. But I also think Allen is also getting better at her craft. This book had more of a quality of believeable about it.
Pearl is now older and Air follows her life through to Japan. Now this was epic. The Japanese subcultures have truly been brought to life. While she meets many people and tries very hard, Pearl can never quite fit in. She still struggles with strange visions which bring about a magical quality to the writing. She is able to manage them better as an adult though. In true immigrant fashion, when she comes back to Mississippi at one point, she finds that she can’t quite fit in here either – a classic case of ‘reverse culture shock’.
Having moved countries with vastly different cultures myself, I completely agreed with a lot of her emotions. Of feeling uprooted from home country and not quite settled in, in new is something all immigrants face at one point of time or another. The concept of ‘home’ is dealt with poignantly, as home is different things to different people and takes on a whole new meaning as we travel more and move more for study, work, or other reasons. Allen’s style is disarming and simple. The book is easily read and enjoyed in a couple of long sittings by the winter fire.