Debut author Brita Sandstrom arrives with an unforgettable modern folktale of the darkness around and inside us, and the courage it takes to keep hope alive.
“Hollow Chest is remarkable on so many levels—its exquisite writing, its startling originality, its deep empathy. An astonishing debut.” —Anne Ursu, award-winning author of The Lost Girl
Charlie has been having nightmares. Eyes watching him in the night, claws on his chest, holding him down. His dreams have been haunted for years, ever since German bombs rained down on London, taking his father’s life, taking his city’s spirit, taking his beloved brother, Theo, off to war in France.
Now Charlie is left to take care of his grandpa Fitz while his mother works, waiting for the day when Theo will come home. And with World War II nearly won, that day is almost here. Grandpa Fitz warns Charlie that soldiers sometimes come back missing a piece of themselves, but Charlie isn’t worried. Whatever Theo has lost, Charlie will help him find it.
When Theo finally does return, though, he is cold and distant. But Charlie refuses to accept that the brother he knew is gone, and soon, he discovers the reason for his brother’s change: war wolves. Terrifying ancient beasts who consume the hearts of those broken by grief.
The wolves have followed soldiers back home from the front. And if Charlie truly wants to save Theo, he’s going to have to find them and get his brother’s heart back. But can a heart that’s been eaten ever be replaced?
Praise For Hollow Chest…
"I read this book breathlessly, ardently, my heart thumping in my chest. Brita Sandstrom has woven a story stitched through with hope and terror and longing. At its center is the utter audacity of love - how we hang on even when we are broken, and how we must never let go. A lovely, moving debut." — Kelly Barnhill, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon
“Hollow Chest is remarkable on so many levels—its exquisite writing, its startling originality, its deep empathy. But what lingers most is its unwavering heartbeat: in the darkest of times, what will carry us through is love.” — Anne Ursu, award-winning author of The Lost Girl
“Brita Sandstrom’s debut is the rare sort of book that gives new language to old truths. Tender, sweet, painful, and brave, Hollow Chest is full of astonishing love.” — Elana K. Arnold, award-winning author of The House That Wasn't There
"The book effectively evokes post-war England and the way that war doesn’t end for everyone, and the wolves are a potent metaphor to introduce younger audiences to the realities of PTSD." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"The literal and figurative rubble of combat provides a rich setting through which to examine the fragility and incredible resilience of the human heart. It’s both a wrenching and wondrous world." — Booklist (starred review)
"Sandstrom tells a story that is equally tender and terrifying, balancing a family’s emotional gravity with the chilling war wolves. With moody occasional illustrations by Shin, a relaxed pace, and tender prose, this historical fantasy expertly employs anxiety and empathy to demonstrate war’s devastating effect on individuals and families." — Publishers Weekly
Walden Pond Press, 9780062870742, 352pp.
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
About the Author
Brita Sandstrom is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children and young adults. Hollow Chest is her first book. She lives with her family and collection of cats in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can find her online at www.britasandstrom.com.