Monday, June 1, 2020

65. Sweep

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster. Jonathan Auxier. 2018. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There are all sorts of wonderful things a person might see very early in the morning.

Premise/plot: Nan Sparrow, our heroine, is a chimney sweep; one of many. When we first meet her in the opening pages of Auxier's novel, she's in the employ of Wilkie Crudd. She wasn't always. In her vaguest, fuzziest memories, Nan remembers the Sweep, the man who raised her and taught her everything he knew. Those dreams of the past haunt her in a lovely way, for the most part. She tells stories about the Sweep almost making him legendary among the other children. His physical legacy to her was small--a small piece of coal and a hat--but his legacy was priceless in ways no one could have foreseen.

When she needs help the most--in her DARKEST hour--help comes from an unusual source, that small lump of coal. For that coal--once burned--becomes a living being, a golem of soot, if you will. She names him Charlie.

The story is fantastical and memorable.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved this one. I hesitate to share too much of its plot for just that reason. This one is best read without knowing all the ins and outs. (Some books are; some aren't.) It was a book to be experienced. It was a book with depth and substance. The writing is delightful in that it sweeps you up, up, and away. But the story itself is bittersweet. There's nothing cutesy and adorable about children living in such poverty and in such cruel situations.

I will need to reread this one. Perhaps even this year.

ETA: Funny how you can read the same book twice and have different reactions each time. I didn't love, love, love it the second time around. I liked it certainly. I found it well worth reading. But I didn't get swept up in the story. The other books I've reread by Auxier have held up better.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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