Operation Wandering Soul takes place mostly in a Los Angeles hospital. It’s located in a poor section of the city, where most of the patients coming in have no money and were brought in due to injuries received while committing crimes. The main focus is on the pediatrics ward. The doctor is a man named Richard Kraft who takes care of a small group of patients that range from a child born without a face, to a girl who is losing her leg due to a mysterious disease, to a 12-year-old boy aging 3x faster than normal. Dr. Kraft is slowly becoming disenchanted in the world around him. He lived all over the world when he was a child and, to be honest, he hasn’t been happy since he moved to America.
In Dr. Kraft’s opinion, this is a world in which adults do more harm to children than good, including himself. It’s a world which would have been better if children were led away to live by themselves rather than living the lives they have now. Powers emphasizes this point by including moments in history and in stories in which adults harmed children and how they were better off without them. It starts off with the evacuation of all the children in London during WWII where a lot of the children were taking to “safe places”: temporary homes in which they were forced into labor, assaulted, and even beaten. A short chapter by chapter summary of Peter Pan was included to show how peaceful the world might be if there were no adults. He even included the Children’s Crusade and wrote about their unfortunate fate at the hands of the Turks.
The book climaxes when the children of the pediatrics ward want to put on a play. In this play, a pied piper leads all the children from a village away to a better place. All the children, that is, except three: the fast-aging child, the boy without a face, and the girl without a leg. The most emotional part is that all the children involved play themselves.
I recommend this book with reservations because you have to be willing to put effort into this book to understand and enjoy it. You can’t just fly right through without thinking about what you are reading or you will miss key points. I had a hard time finishing it because it was long and it was just overall difficult to read. I may give this book another try later on.