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Karen Hesse

Phoenix Rising

Karen Hesse Phoenix Rising
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Pulling my radiation mask out of my pocket, my rough hands snagged the fine gauze. How could such a thin weave protect me from death? You can’t see radiation, or smell it, or feel it. Could a mask stop it so easily?

Nyle’s life with her grandmother on their Vermont sheep farm advances rhythmically through the seasons until the night of the accident at the Cookshire nuclear power plant. Without warning, Nyle’s modest world fills with protective masks, evacuations, contaminated food, disruptions, and mistrust. Things become even more complicated when Ezra Trent and his mother, refugees from the heart of the accident, take temporary shelter in the back bedroom of Nyle’s house. The back bedroom is the dying room: It took her mother when Nyle was six; it stole away her grandfather just two years ago. Now, Ezra is back there and Nyle doesn’t want to open her heart to him. Too many times she’s let people in, only to have them desert her. If she lets herself care for Ezra, she knows he’ll end up leaving her, too.

“Hesse transcends the specific to illuminate universal questions of responsibility, care, and love. . . . Hesse portrays her characters’ anguish and their growing tenderness with such unwavering clarity and grace that she sustains the tension of her lyrical, understated narrative right to her stunning, beautifully wrought conclusion.”—Kirkus Reviews, Pointer

“The characters overcome adversity, not through heroic deeds of epic proportions, but through simple acts of kindness. The message is poignant, but not overpowering. Hesse has displayed considerable skill in creating a contemporary tale of hope and love rising, like a phoenix, from destruction and despair.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review

“The author’s understated approach heightens the emotional impact of her searching and memorable tale.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Hesse in Phoenix Rising deals with the effects of a leak at a nuclear plant, a young girl’s awakening sexuality, the meaning of friendship, the strength of family ties, and the courage to love—and she does this with a grace and power that could make her novel ‘a favorite’ with younger teens.”—Voice of Youth Advocates

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