Summer time is awesome. Somehow, last summer didn't feel quite as awesome, so I'm trying hard to make up for lost time. So yesterday, I had a couple of appointments (one of the REALLY fun parts of summer-going to all those doctor's appointments you can't schedule during school because taking a whole day off to go see a doctor??!!!) and in between, I had time to read. I TORE through this book because I couldn't stop reading it! I was sorry when it was over too, so maybe I'll have to go back and re-read it. It was that good! It's called Hollow Chest and it's Brita Sandstrom's debut novel.
The main character is 12 year old Charlie. Charlie lives with his mom and his grandfather. His grandfather is a veteran of World War 1 and is missing his left arm. His mom works hard and provides the income for the family. Charlie's dad was killed in a bombing and his brother, Theo, has been serving in the war. But Theo is on his way home and it's really all he can think about-how things will be able to all go back to normal once Theo gets home. But it doesn't really work like that, does it? Charlie gets a preview of what Theo might be like when Charlie goes to the hospital to bring cards to the war veterans. Charlie meets Reggie and he starts to think about how Theo might be different after the war. He also starts seeing wolves that no one else can see and hearing about the wolves from his grandfather, the homeless lady in the village, from Reggie. The wolves have an integral part to play in the story, not only in the trauma part but also in the healing. This is an amazing story and the World War 2 part of it is great, but the idea of the wolves feeding off the trauma of humans is brilliant. I think this would be a wonderful book to read with kids to open up this conversation of trauma and how you might be able to move forward with your life after it. I can't wait to give this one to kids I know.