Teen Volunteer Book Review: Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

Book Review by Aleah Jones

Aleah is fourteen years old and a summer 2021 teen volunteer

At my school library, the William Allen White award is a big deal. Each class gets a short summary of each nominee book, with the hope of getting students interested in reading them, and eventually, voting for their favorites. I enjoyed the opportunity to read several different nominee books and then vote. That’s how I stumbled upon Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster.

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

This book is about a girl named Nan, who lost everyone and everything she ever knew. She is left with only two things to remember Sweep, her father figure. His hat, and a clump of soot that sometimes seems to have a mind of its own. Nan is hired to join a group of climbers, boys that climb chimneys to clean out the soot and grime, and she becomes a sisterly figure to them. When an “accident” happens on the job, and Nan is assumed dead, she escapes to an abandoned house. With new friends of the most unlikely kinds, including a magical golem, she continues to live in fear of her old boss, Wilkie Crudd. Her golem, whom she names Charlie, continues to protect her from harm. Nan starts to feel the pressure when she finds out that a golem doesn’t have a happy ending. She doesn’t want that to happen to Charlie because they are such great friends. Then, the time comes that she has to make a decision; continue to live in hiding or risk being found by Crudd as she protests unjust conditions of the climbers all over London? 

This book is not only an exciting adventure, but it also has historical elements in it as well. When I read this book, I learned about the children who took on the role of climber to provide for themselves. It also teaches a lesson of friendship. Nan becomes friends with characters of all shapes and sizes, and also, characters of all species.

This book is really enjoyable to read because of all the plot twists woven in throughout the story. It is also a fun read because of the uniqueness of all the characters and their different personalities. 

For some, this book might be a little confusing because of all of the flashbacks that appear throughout the story. Thankfully, all of Nan’s flashbacks are in separate italicized chapters, so it should be easy to distinguish when the flashbacks occur.

Sweep is an amazing story. It is a fantasy, history, and adventure story all rolled into one. It is a really exciting read, and I would recommend it to anyone who is over the age of ten. Younger kids may find some events in the story a bit intense.

This is an amazing story, and I would highly recommend that you read it and some of the other William Allen White Nominees. You may find a new favorite!

FYI: A few of the scenes in this book are a little intense, and a couple “accidents” happen that are slightly gruesome, but are not described in great detail.

Here’s a library link to Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

What’s Ashley Reading?: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

First line: I decided that Orion needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Summary: The Scholomance is a school for wizards. However, this is not your ordinary school. There are no teachers, monsters lurk around every corner and allies are more important than friends. El has spent her years here trying to stay alive, literally. And even though she has extraordinary powers she has to keep them in check otherwise she could destroy the school and everyone in it. With her reputation as a dark wizard and her grumpy attitude she has never made any friends but that all changes when Orion Lake decides to save her life, again.

My Thoughts: This book was crazy! The first few chapters had so much information, world building and magic system in it that it nearly overwhelmed me but I stuck with it. It was worth it! There are many books that are trying to be like Harry Potter but this takes it to another level. Monsters creep out of every nook and cranny. The school is forever changing. Fellow students may try to ally themselves with you or kill you. No teachers or even any adults are in the school. And graduation is a life or death situation.

Everything about this book was different and exciting. I loved the ending. It was thrilling and fast paced. I wish it didn’t have to end but it gave such a good cliffhanger that I am eagerly anticipating the next book. It cannot come soon enough!

FYI: Lots of death, violence and magic.