I still get scared at night. When I sleep, I pull the covers right up over my head and leave only a little hole that I can breathe through – but not see through. I don’t want to see what’s out there (p 17).
As his family struggles with a sickly newborn, Steve finds finds comfort in his dreams until the angelic visions become threatening.
Steve knows he is different from fifth graders. He prefers to be alone, his numerous fears driving uncontrollable compulsions, singling his out as different.
He has always had vivid dreams but none so tangible, so prophetic as the vision of a winged angel all aglow. Steve has never wanted a dream to be real until this one because he’s never had one so sweet. As stress over baby Theo’s condition reaches a crescendo, the angel is promising to make everything alright again.
As the nights pass, however, the angel is revealed to be a Queen wasp, nesting outside the baby’s bedroom and her promise morphs a little with each concession made by Steve. As the boy learns the truth, he must confront his fears if he is to protect his brother.
In a novel where the line between reality and dream blurs, Oppel prods deep hurts and ugly truths, asking Steve and his readers to witness and endure extreme heartbreak and sadness. Wrenching and unrelenting, this is a sophisticated handling of myriad of issues.
Jon Klassen’s sparse illustrations capture the tension and foreboding perfectly. Readers who enjoy this will want to check out Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls.
Personal copy | 978-1481432320 | 244 pages | Ages 10+
Kirkus starred review
School Library Journal starred review
New York Times review