“All children, except one, grow up.”
Peter Pan is a classic children’s story with iconic characters we all know and love. Who didn’t want to fly off to Neverland with Peter as a child? I wasn’t expecting to read this so soon after I included it in my Most Anticipated Classics post, but that’s just what I did. I loved the Peter Pan movies when I was little and couldn’t wait to read the book and was so glad to find it didn’t disappoint.
In the classics post I said I loved Peter but my opinion has changed. I remember loving him in the cartoon but I didn’t like him that much when I read the book. He was arrogant in the movies but he was likable, wasn’t he? I was surprised at how little I liked him in the book but I also felt bad for him. He never understood the significance of anything, even his friendship with the Lost Boys. He was a fun little boy who was always up for adventures and inspired courage in the Lost Boys, but he lived day to day and often forgot what was important to him once some time had passed. I’m torn on if I really liked him but I definitely pitied him. I also forgot that Tinker Bell isn’t nice in this story. For someone who was obsessed with the Tinker Bell fairy books as an eight year old, that was an unwelcome surprise.
I’m overdue for a rewatch of the Disney movie because I can’t remember exactly what happened in the movie that was different in the book. I was expecting more of a real friendship between Wendy and Peter, definitely not Wendy only being there to act as a mother for the Lost Boys. It made sense, because the Lost Boys wanted a mother and Wendy wanted to take care of them, but make believe and real life blurred, especially for Peter. The story was familiar and exciting the way it was when I was little. It was nice to return to a story from my childhood and find it just as enchanting.
I enjoyed the J.M. Barrie’s writing style. The book read like he was telling the story to us and like readers were peering into the lives of Wendy and Peter Pan alongside him. His descriptive style painted lovely images of Neverland and its otherworldly inhabitants in my mind and made me want to live in their cozy home under the ground. The illustrations in the Barnes and Noble leather bound edition only added to the magic.
I think most people are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, but if you’re not and don’t want the ending spoiled, don’t read the next paragraph. You’ve been warned!
The ending always makes me sad. Reading that all the Lost Boys become regular people with regular jobs and no memories of their life in Neverland with Peter still gets me. And Wendy! Ugh. But I loved the symmetry between Wendy’s first meeting with Peter and the first meeting between Peter and Jane and that the story continues on and on. The end feels like an awful reminder of how life can lose its sense of wonder when you grow up if you let it. Some of us still believe in magic.
I loved reading this and reconnecting with a story that reminds me of being small and in awe of Neverland. The story was fun even though reading it as an adult makes Peter’s life seem a little less fun and a little more sad.