Hollow Chest

HarperCollins/Walden Pond. Jun. 2021. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062870742.
Gr 3-8–In London after World War II, Charlie, who lives with his mother and Grandpa Fitz, is awaiting his brother’s return from the war. Charlie’s grandpa, who has a missing arm, warns Charlie that Theo may be different upon his return “even if you can’t see it right away.” Charlie is not deterred and is determined to figure out how to help Theo get back to how things were before. There is a thread of folktales woven into this historical fiction story. Charlie listens to stories told by his mother and others in the community, including a story about the “war wolves” that steal and eat a portion of a person’s heart, leaving them forever frozen in their loss and grief. Charlie must find strength and bravery that he did not know he had in order to find the missing pieces of his brother’s heart. Charlie, his family, and his community are all coded white. The folktales have been amended and updated by Sandstrom to be more palatable for today’s culture.
VERDICT An addition for libraries with readers who enjoy World War II fiction, magical realism, and stories that tug at the heartstrings about strong family bonds.

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