By Esther Ehrlich
ARC e-book, 336 pages (hardcover)
2014, Wendy Lamb Books
ISBN: 9780385386074 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: September 9, 2014
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Blurb from Netgalley: In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes. Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
I simply loved this book. It’s considered middle-grade (I believe) and recommended for ages 10 and up, but never once did I feel like I was reading something meant for children. This book was intelligently written and I believe that no matter what age you are, you can take something away from this book. Chirp expresses herself elegantly
which cannot be said for this review and my favorite part of this book was the imagery – it’s simple and effective. When Chirp thought about her feelings, I could both picture and feel what she was thinking:
“I can’t stand straight and tall because that isn’t what sad looks like. It isn’t what sad feels like, either. Sad is a huge rock on your head that pushes you down. Sad is wishing you could crawl on the ground like a black beetle.”
Chirp and Joey felt like real children, coming from different backgrounds and their friendship was both complicated and simple – it wasn’t perfect, but it was natural. The whole book felt very natural, and having a birdwatcher in the family allowed me to appreciate all the bird and nature references too (I can only assume Ehrlich did her research)! I felt like I was there with Chirp during her hard times and though I’m much older than her character, I understood where she was coming from. There’s a heavy storyline to this book, but Ehrlich made it easy to read and I do think that younger audiences could appreciate what she’s done here.
This review really doesn’t do the book justice – it’s a relatively quick read, just give it a chance! Very powerful, stylistic writing that had me from page one. It appears that this is Ehrlich’s debut novel and I can’t wait for more from her!