Nightingale's Nest

Nikki Loftin. Razorbill, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59514-546-8
Drawing from the Hans Christian Andersen story The Nightingale, Loftin (The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy) contrasts the uplifting friendship between 12-year-old narrator Little John and an otherworldly foster child with the oppressive poverty of a Texas setting and the burdens of grief. Still reeling from the death of his sister, Little John helps his landscaper father on the property of the richest and most powerful man in town, the Emperor. While working there, Little John befriends Gayle, who builds a nest in a tree and whose enchanting voice possesses healing powers and makes her an object of the Emperor's sinister interest. The elements of magical realism are not as potent as the stark descriptions of Little John's difficult life, including his family's precarious economic situation, Little John's estrangement from his former best friend, his mother's tenuous grasp on reality, and his father's drinking problem. Yet the intensity of Little John's predicament as the Emperor enlists his help to capture Gayle's voice offers menacing and memorable tension. Ages 8–12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/10/2014
Release date: 02/20/2014
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Paperback - 978-1-59514-623-6
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