Sweep

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There are all sorts of wonderful things a person might see very early in the morning. You might see your parents sleeping. You might see an ambitious bird catching a worm…And if you are very, very lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the girl and her Sweep.

- first sentences of Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

From Amazon: It's been five years since the Sweep disappeared. Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow had no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days sweeping out chimneys. The job is dangerous and thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.
 
When Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire, she fears the end has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from soot and ash.
 
Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a new life—saving each other in the process. Lyrically told by one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and wonder.

One part fantasy, one part historical fiction and three parts wonderful, Jonathan Auxier’s most recent release is a must-read. This story is filled with friendship, wonder, sadness and injustice; it has all the feels. Thankfully, it ends with large doses of hope and redemption. It’s the kind of book that brings the best kind of sigh at the end of the last page.

Nan, the main character, is smart and wise beyond her years. Since her Sweep left her, five years ago, she has a hard time letting anyone else in. When she finally meets Charlie, a gift from the Sweep, their friendship is sweet and fierce. They are characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and Charlie is the most endearing monster you will ever meet. They make a great team. The story moves along at a good clip, highlighting the plight of children sweeps, the wonder of new discoveries, and the joy of friendship.

But, what I love most about this book is the theme of making sacrifices for those you love. At one point Nan’s friend Toby makes the following observation:

“He looked up at the sky. It was just clear enough to make out the faint glimmer of moonlight. ‘That’s how it works, doesn’t it? We are saved by saving others.’”

There are many examples woven throughout this story of characters willing to make sacrifices for their friends. This theme shows up over and over, as characters you care about make choices to help the ones they love.

Stories that go deeper than simply entertaining us are why I read. Don’t get me wrong, Sweep is entertaining; it is a great story! But, it also goes deep. It showcases a piece of history that I knew little about and inspires me to love big. It is sad; there are evil men and big losses, but it is ultimately hopeful and full of redemption. It is the kind of book I love to read.

If your child:

they should consider adding Sweep to their TBR (to-be-read) list today. Or maybe, you can read it aloud together. A book like Sweep has the potential to lead you into some great conversations with your child. It is the kind of story your kids can fall in love with and maybe even learn a little at the same time.

Have you or your kids read this newest release by Jonathan Auxier yet? If so, what did you think?

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