Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster is a middle grade historical fiction novel by Jonathan Auxier. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed some of Auxier’s other books, and I thought it would be a good fit for my three girls who are in the fourth and sixth grades.
Nan Sparrow works as a chimney sweep in Victorian London. It’s a miserable existence, with no end in sight, but that changes when she meets Charlie, a gentle creature who befriends her. Nan has never really had a friend, and she is fiercely protective of Charlie. She understands that he would never hurt anyone, but is there a place in the harsh world for a monster?
This was an amazing book. My girls loved reading it so much and always asked to read another chapter whenever we finished one. My oldest thought it was a nice mix between realistic fiction and fantasy. She says that it’s a nice blend of beautiful and dark. My younger two liked the funny parts the best. As a family, we especially enjoyed Auxier’s take on Jewish mysticism by including golems.
Auxier has a delightful cast of secondary characters to support Nan. Some are nice, and some are not so nice, but they all play an important role in her story. I appreciated Auxier’s effort to humanize one of the more unpleasant characters. I have to remain vague, but clearly there’s a reason for [redacted] sullenness.
I would absolutely recommend Sweep for middle grade readers. My girls were riveted by the story, and I bought a copy for us to keep as well as the Audible edition. They definitely enjoyed reading about a girl doing daring things, and they even liked learning about William Blake. This English major certainly appreciated the opportunity to break out some of Blake’s greatest hits. I am looking forward to sharing more of Auxier’s books with my girls in the future.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.