The Ice House

Monica Sherwood. Little, Brown, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316705-34-9
In the six months since worldwide weather phenomenon “the Freeze” began, sixth grader Lou has tired of living through a “historic moment”: attending school remotely alienates her from friends Priya and Nellie, food deliveries arrive less and less frequently, and her Nana died after slipping on ice, devastating Lou’s artist mother. When an iced-over branch hits the family’s neighbor—the folk musician father of Lou’s former friend Luke—it causes memory loss, a tragedy that catalyzes Lou, cued as white, to again spend time with Luke, who is of Jamaican descent. Inspired by a school architecture project and wanting an escape from their respective situations, the pair builds a house of ice and snow in their apartment building’s backyard. While enjoying their new refuge, the two find that the ceiling appears to offer visions of a hopeful future—one in which Lou’s mom is happier and Luke’s dad makes music again. Sherwood’s lightly magical debut deftly mixes tween friendship difficulties and familial frustrations with an alternate reality that mirrors pandemic schooling, engagingly exploring the loneliness of an event that requires insular experiences—a feeling with which many readers will relate. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/23/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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