For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys” - orphans owned by chimney sweeps - to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous.
Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived - and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come.
Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature - a golem - made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.
Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life - saving one another in the process. By one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.
While intended for a middle grade audience, this is a children’s book that speaks more to the grown-up world than one might think. Nan and her group of friends face down big things, dark things and come out better. At its glowing heart, Sweep is a story about all the things that make up life—the sweet and wondrous, and the dark and painful.
The friendship between Nan and Charlie is just the sweetest thing ever. From the back cover copy, I expected Charlie to be this more mature protector type. He sure is the protector type but his child-like questions and curiosity about everything warm the heart.
Unlike Nan, I adored Toby and wished he would have had more time on the pages. But if he were to have more time on the page, then something else would have had to be taken out, and we just can’t have that.
The inclusion of Jewish heritage and characters was a lovely touch and I enjoyed having it in there. It’s such a rich and interesting history to read about and a group of people that need representation in fiction beyond victims in WWII novels.
Miss Bloom was a brilliant adult figure—showing where she’s made mistakes and where she’s gotten it right. Her care for the kids in the story added a lot. And seeing an adult regain her sense of wonder is a beautiful thing as well.
The climax is gorgeous. And bittersweet. And . . . well, I won’t spoil it.
None. (If you have a more sensitive reader, you may want to consider that this book tactfully but realistically portrays what chimney sweeps of that time faced. This can lead to some intense scenes for younger readers such as a chimney fire intentionally started by another sweep, one sweep who is killed in an accident, and illnesses brought on by inhaling soot.)
Don’t sweep this book aside. No matter what age you are, this should be required reading for everyone and is sure to grab readers who still hang on to their sense of wonder. (It would definitely be a fabulous choice for a family read-aloud!)
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!