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Literature / The Forgotten Door

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The Forgotten Door is a children's novel by Alexander Key first published in 1965.

Due to its inclusion in many elementary school required reading lists, the book has survived on mediocre popularity, and remains one of the few books by its author still in print.

The plot concerns a young boy, Jon, who accidentally 'falls' to Earth through the titular portal. Accustomed as he is to his utopian, pacifistic, vegetarian, and money-free world, Jon's bewildered attempts to connect with the petty grievances of Earthlings serve as foil to the reader; and while there is some action and suspense, the main tension of the story comes from the sympathetic family that shelters Jon being forced to confront their own complacency towards the injustices of their world while trying to make Jon understand that this is just how life is — but of course, for Jon and his world, it isn't.


This book provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. Most of the book is about the Beans trying to help Jon.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Pitts and Macklins hate John because he seems strange to them.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted, though he is a very quick learner.
  • But Now I Must Go: Inverted. When Jon's birth family come through the door to bring him back to their world, the Beans are worried what will happen to them but tell him to go. He insists on bringing them with him, so they don't have to be afraid of the government taking revenge on them and so they can see his peaceful world for themselves.
  • Captured Super-Entity: The government tries to make Jon into one.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Jon manages to play with Rascal, the dog Thomas Bean had just about given up on taming.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Averted, but Jon has a lot of culture shock about the deception and violence on Earth.
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  • Good Is Dumb: The Beans use Jon's telepathy to clear him of a charge of theft, without thinking that the government might try to kidnap Jon for devious purposes. Earlier when Thomas asks if they should ask for advice Mary Bean only worries about reporters.
  • Identity Amnesia: After falling and hitting his head, Jon forgets who he is and where he came from.
  • Human Aliens: Jon.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Each chapter title is a sentence beginning with "He..." as in "He is Lost and Found" and "He Gains a Home."
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Jon is unhappy with the idea of pretending to be the child of a friend of Thomas Bean.
  • Living Lie-Detector: Due to his telepathy. It becomes a problem later on.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Jon's world is an ideal utopia where violence is unknown.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The author never explains exactly how the U.S. government wants to use Jon's telepathy, but it doesn't sound good. Mary Bean thinks it might involve warfare.
  • Small Towns: The Beans live in a small town, and everyone who grew up there knows who is related to (and will provide an alibi) to whom.
  • Telepathy: Jon is able to read others' minds as well as animals.