Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ashes, Ashes

Ashes, Ashes

Jo Treggiari
For ages 14 and up
Scholastic Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-0545255639

Lucy was the odd one out in her family. For years, she was the child who was plain and clumsy, who did not do especially well in school, and who did not seem to have a talent for anything. She was sandwiched between her “superjock” younger brother, and her “brainiac” older sister.

Now everything has changed. Some time ago global warming started to cause floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, and crazy weather. These events seriously changed the map of the world, and now much of New York City is under water. Though many people died, living in New Jersey Lucy and her family did all right. People adapted to the changes. Then the first wave of the plague hit. And then the second. Lucy’s parents and her siblings died, as did most of the people on the planet. Now Lucy is the survivor who did not get sick, the young woman who lives alone in The Wilds in a shelter she made, eating food she gathers and hunts herself.

Lucy thinks she is safest on her own, where S’ans (people who got the plague and who survived), thieves, and Sweepers cannot find her. Then one day a strange boy called Aiden saves her from a pack of hunting dogs, and soon after her home is washed away by a tsunami. Lucy is forced to seek higher ground, and she joins Aiden in the camp that he calls home.

For the first time in months, Lucy is able to bathe properly, wear clean clothes, and eat food that is palatable. She comes to appreciate how brave and hard working the people in the camp are, and when Sweepers raid the camp taking several people with them, Lucy gets angry. Something has to be done to stop the Sweepers, and someone has to find out what they are doing with the people that they kidnap. Are the Sweepers really trying to find a cure for the plague or could it be that they are really infecting people with it.

In this powerful and often extremely disturbing novel, we meet a young woman who discovers that she has a strong survival instinct, and that she has something to offer others as well. With strong characters and a plot that is full of surprises, this is a thrilling story.