Matilda – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★★   (5 / 5 stars)
Audio Book Performance: ★★★★★  (5 / 5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★★  (5 / 5 stars)

Matilda is a seemingly ordinary little girl, but she is wise beyond her years. By the age of five, she already went through the entire children’s section in the library, and has read works by the likes of Dickens, Eyre, Austen, and more. So when she starts school, Ms. Honey is astounded by two things: 1) her parents don’t seem to care and 2) Ms. Trunchbull, the pernicious head mistress, will not let Matilda expand her horizons. Stuck in Ms. Honey’s class, Matilda’s mind continues to grow, and as she discovers her innate powers, she must decide the best use for them.

There was a nostalgic aspect in picking up Matilda by Roald Dahl. When I was young, I used to go over to my friend’s house for a sleep over quite regularly, and Matilda was our default movie. But I never read the book. So many memories flooded back as I listened to Kate Winslet’s narrating this classic tale: I could picture Matilda with her family, with Ms. Honey, and with her friends. It was like I was sitting on the couch of my friend’s house all over again. That’s the power of books as Matilda discovered? You’re transported to another time and place, away from troublesome people and things.

The book does differ to an extent: while the movie focuses more on Matilda’s magic, which is easier to portray, the book focuses on her intelligence and mind. She is bright, but not in the annoying sense. This is an accomplishment in itself. Sometimes writing smart characters can make them seem annoying; Matilda is entirely unaware of her intelligence, something Ms. Honey even comments on to herself throughout the narrative. At her core, she is just a little girl who wants to read and learn. Weren’t we all children like that?

While I’m quite aware of the controversy around some of Roald Dahl’s past (but then again, it is similar to that of Walt Disney and other famous writers/entertainers), I didn’t let that hinder my enjoyment of the story. For the most part, Matilda is a secular tale that anyone can enjoy, although there are some Christian-centric references that can easily be skimmed over.

All-in-all, the book did not disappoint and reignited a part of my childhood, and that’s all I could have asked of it.

What’s it about?

Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a menacing, kid-hating headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!

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