Friday, August 24, 2018

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

When I think of chimney sweeps, Mary Poppins comes to mind, but this book gives a whole new perspective on the profession that involves cleaning soot and ash from chimneys.

Nan Sparrow is an orphan who has no other choice but to spend her days working for the chimney sweep, Wilkie Crudd. She is at the mercy of Crudd and his cruel ways, risking her life by climbing into chimneys that are only narrow enough for a child. Nan, an expert at chimney climbing, has been very lucky until the day she gets stuck. When a treasured gift from her past master turns into a monster, actually a golem, her life is miraculously saved and a new and unusual friendship forms.

Charlie may have been born of a piece of char, but he makes a terrific friend for Nan. Their friendship is just delightful, odd yet sweet. As Nan researches golems she begins to think about his purpose and wonder about the duration of his existence. Their journey together shows the power of saving others to save ourselves.

Nan is a resilient and courageous character. Throughout the book, she changes from a girl controlled by a master to someone fighting to make things right for those who are suffering and treated unfairly. She has fears, but she faces them head on to survive and make things better for herself and others.

With its magic, there is a fairytale quality to this book. Set in Victorian England, I could also imagine traveling over the rooftops of London with Nan and Charlie. Sometimes dark, the story is also one of hope. It offers the reminder that there are many wonders within our world waiting to be discovered.

I read a digital review copy of this book on NetGalley, 
thanks to the publisher, Abrams Kids. 
The book publishes in September. 

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