I’ve read the book ”Phoenix Rising” by Karen Hesse. The story takes place in a small place in Vermont, named North Haversham. The main characters are Nyle Sumner who is a 13 years old girl, her grandmother and her best friend Muncie. Nyle lives with her grandmother at an old farm. They don’t do much farming anymore, but they have some sheep. Nyle lives with her grandmother because her mother died when she was young, and when her mother was dieing, her father left them.
When the story begins, it has just been an accident at a nuclear-power plant in a city near by. This means that it’s not safe anymore to be in North Haversham without wearing radiation-masks to protect the peoples from breathing in radiation, which will kill them. And they have to stay inside as much as they can. In the city where the accident took place, it’s not possible to live anymore. The ones who got away alive, have to move someplace else.
So Nyle’s grandmother decides to let two of the evacuees live at their place, even though Nyle don’t want to. The evacuees are Mrs. Trent, and her son Ezra, a 15 year old boy. Their father died in the accident. At the farm where they live, it isn’t many bedrooms, so they have to stay in a bedroom which Nyle calls the “back bedroom”. It’s because both her mother and her grandfather died in that room, and after that she hasn’t been there, because she thinks that everybody who stays in that room is going to die.
Ezra is very sick of the radiation, and Mrs. Trent says that the possibility of him dieing soon, is very big. So Nyle have to stay at home every night to take care of Ezra, and do some of the chores at the farm. This makes her best friend Muncie a bit curious, because Nyle hasn’t told her about Ezra, and she’s not planning on doing it either. In the town where they live, everyone is afraid of the radiation and the evacuees, because they think they might get the radiation-sickness them self. So Nyle and her grandmother keep it as a secret.
After a while, Ezra is getting better, and he manages to get out of bed, and out of the room. But he doesn’t want to go outside, even though the radiation in the town had disappeared, so it was safe being outside again. And when he was getting better, he and Nyle get good friends, but this worries Nyle, because she knows that he is either going to die, or, if he gets better, they’re going to leave. And since she already lost so many peoples in her life, she doesn’t want to lose him too.
Some weeks later Ezra got so much better, that he managed to come outside with Nyle, and help her with some of her chores. But when they were outside, Muncie noticed them, and of course she got mad at Nyle for having evacuees at her house for over two months without telling her.
Then Ezra gets even better, so he started at school together with Nyle, and then everybody get to know about him. One of the mean kids at school, Ripley, often uses to bother Nyle and Muncie. And one day, when he sees Nyle outside with Ezra, he comes over to them and starts saying mean things about Ezra. This makes Nyle really mad, so she and Ripley start fighting, and of course he wins, since he’s two years older than her. So Ezra tries to help Nyle, but Ripley starts hitting him over and over again, until he’s bleeding all over, and he faints away. Mrs. Trent and Nyle’s grandmother heard all the noise, and got outside and helped them back to the house. They take Ezra with them back to back bedroom, and tell Nyle to stay away, so she goes to her own bedroom. When she comes down later, she discovers that they’re not home anymore, and that their car is gone.
When Nyle’s grandmother comes home the day after, she tells her that Ezra is dead. And it wasn’t because of Ripley, but an illness called leukaemia, so that was what made him bleed so much. And that’s the way the book ended.
The main character in the book is Nyle, and she’s a 13 years old girl. She has lived a hard life, with many of her family members dieing and leaving her. But you understand in the very beginning that she is a strong person and very responsible. She’s a bit temperamental, and many times it’s described that she wants to start a fight with Ripley, but she never does it until the end.
Her best friend Muncie is a very insecure girl, and she doesn’t have many friends apart from Nyle. She is very short and a bit chubby, and therefore it is a lot of people teasing her.
Ezra is a 15 years old boy, and he was one of the lucky ones who survived after the accident. He is very anxious about being outside the back bedroom at the beginning, because he knows that just a little bit more radiation will kill him. But as he gets stronger, he dares to do much more. You can see very clear that he is one of those who say everything they mean, and he doesn’t try to hide anything.
The book is called “Phoenix Rising” because Ezra describes him self as a phoenix; after the accident he was as good as dead, but just like a phoenix, he raised from his ash, and got stronger for every day that went by.
I thought this book was quite good actually, even though it’s recommended for a bit younger people. And what I said earlier about the contents about the book was only a part of it, because there were a lot of smaller and less important episodes between the main actions, which make the readers really getting to know the characters of the book. And it also made the book more interesting and fun to read.
Karen Hesse, who wrote this book, is a well-known writer in the US, and she has won several prizes for her books. She lives in Vermont, and after she saw a documentary about the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, and the effect it had on the land and the people who lived there, she decided to write this book about her own town, and what effect the same disaster would have here, since she only lived twenty miles from a nuclear power plant.