The Book Beat: Truths are often best told as stories

In “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” Ransom Riggs’s debut novel, 15-year-old Jacob grows up listening to his grandfather’s extraordinary stories of his bizarre life in an orphanage in Wales and how he came to live in America.

Soon after the story begins, Jacob’s family is struck with tragedy as Jacob finds his grandfather mysteriously murdered after hysterically telling Jacob over the phone that the monsters from his stories were coming.

After his grandfather’s death, Jacob helps clean out the old man’s apartment and finds a letter from Miss Peregrine, the orphanage director, dated 1940. Jacob takes the letter to his new psychiatrist, Dr. Golan, and they both convince Jacob’s dad to take Jacob to the small island in Wales to learn more about his grandfather’s past. They leave to spend three weeks in Wales on an island only accessible by ferry.

Jacob’s father tells him not to wonder around the island alone, but none of the local children will go near the ruins of the house his grandfather used to occupy. Jacob finds an old house that was destroyed by bombs in past wars and searches it for hidden secrets.

In the crumbling house, he finds several very old pictures of peculiar children doing very extraordinary things, such as lifting large boulders. He finds this unbelievable until he sees a girl, one from the pictures, spying on him. She quickly runs away into a bog, where he can find no traces of her except for a few footprints.

Jacob leaves the ruins to find his father, but instead he runs into the girl again and learns that he had stepped into a time loop and is now in the year 1940. The girl, Emma, introduces him to all the other children who tell Jacob that he must be special like them and his grandfather if he is able to go through the time loops. He also learns that the monsters his grandfather had always told him about are real, and he can see them too.

The monsters Jacob can now see have been wreaking havoc while Jacob is spending time with Emma and other kids from the 1940s orphanage. Eventually, the monsters murder a man in Jacob’s time. Jacob decides he must face the monsters to save everyone else, including the orphans he has become very fond of. With the help of Emma, they team up to try to save Miss Peregrine and her home for peculiar children.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” the film will be released in theaters September 30, 2016.