The Nest is a modest novel at 244 pages, but those pages pack quite a punch. Steven is a child riddled with anxiety. For those who have experienced anxiety as a child, Oppel's representation is incredible. The fear, doubt, stress, and nightmares are poignant and unsettlingly familiar. Don't hesitate to give this to mature children struggling with their own anxieties or to parents and caregivers trying to better understand the plights of their children. When we're young it's hard to know what is real and what isn't - something Oppel has masterfully rendered here - and how to process the complexities of anxiety, sickness, and family strife. A beautiful and compelling novel.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Review by Bethany Grabow
The story begins as Ada is punished for looking out the window of the dingy, one-bedroom London apartment she shares with her mother and younger brother Jamie. Ada is nine years old and has never been allowed to leave the apartment. Her mother tells Ada that people would be disgusted by her twisted foot. She accepts her lot in life because at least she has Jamie to keep her company. But when Jamie starts school and spends more and more time away playing outside with his new friends, Ada realizes the little she has in life is slipping away.
Ada begins to prepare for the unknown. She teaches herself to walk on her crippled foot. It is painful, but she is used to pain. When Jamie comes home from school one day, he says a war is coming and they are sending the children away from the city into the safety of the country. Ada realizes this is her chance to escape her cruel mother and the nights spent locked in the cupboard as punishment for the slightest infraction, the life spent trapped. She and Jamie run away and find themselves thrust into the home of Susan Smith, a strange but kind woman. Ada finally has a life of freedom, but can she really trust that things are as good as they seem? Or do all good things come to an end?
This was an outstanding historical fiction novel about vulnerability, trust, and redemption. Ms. Bradley’s books pack an emotional punch and present history in an interesting and relatable way. I would recommend this to older children and teens. I also think this would be a great read aloud for a classroom.
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