by Beth Hautala
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I simply loved The Ostrich and Other Lost Things! This was a 5 star read and I want to place this in the hands of all upper elementary and middle grade readers. The book is mainly told through the eyes of 11 year old Olivia. She lives at home with her mom, dad and older brother Jacob who is autistic. Life doesn’t always go as planned with Jacob around and Olivia loves her brother so much but sometimes she just wants things to be different. She wants one thing that is just her’s since she feels sometimes her life is overshadowed by her brother. She has her superpower according to her dad: she is a finder of lost things. So not being able to find the toy ostrich that her Jacob loved so much really bugs her. There is a traveling zoo in her little town while the big zoo in Oklahoma is getting fixed. She meets Charlie, his mom is the keeper at this part of the zoo. They become best of friends and it is just what Olivia needs. Charlie is able to keep Olivia in check and has an understanding of Jacob and how hard it is to not be like everyone. Charlie was in an accident and is now blind. So he can give Olivia a perspective that she can’t understand. He also is a great friend in listening and telling her when she needs to be nice and that not everything is about her. He is her support and friend for this trying summer of growing up and trying to figure out what she likes, who she is becoming and how Jacob’s violent outburst are changing their family home. The story is realistic and one I think the reader can learn from. Olivia loves her brother so much but she is just a kid and sometimes she gets upset and frustrated but doesn’t express her outburst that well since she is just 11. I liked that in my eyes the author portrayed her very realistic, really I think the whole story seemed very relate able. There is more to the story: the mystery of the missing Ostrich toy, The real life Ostrich that keeps getting out and coming to Olivia’s window and the moment when Jacob runs away after a very bad fight where Olivia says things she can’t take back. This scene is a good lesson in not talking to someone when your mad at them. Sometimes you say things that you want to take back instantly but it’s to late. Grab The Ostrich and Other Lost Things for yourself, your upper elementary reader or middle grade reader.
About this Book: In this beautifully written novel, the bonds and challenges of caring for a sibling with autism are bravely explored, along with the pain and power that comes from self-discovery.
Eleven-year-old Olivia Grant has a knack for finding lost things. She can find lost rings, pets, and even her elderly neighbor’s misplaced glasses. There’s only one thing Olivia has never been able to find–her brother Jacob’s toy ostrich. It wasn’t until the day Jacob lost his ostrich that Olivia noticed how different he was: Jacob is autistic, and though she’s his little sister, Olivia often feels like the older of the pair, his caretaker. And with her parents so heavily focused on maintaining status quo for Jacob, it’s Olivia who has stagnated in his shadow–unable to explore new opportunities, or to be her own person. In fact, apart from being Jacob’s sister, Olivia’s not really sure who she is.
So when summer break begins, and the local community theater announces auditions for an all children’s production of her favorite show, Peter Pan, Olivia jumps at the chance to claim something for herself. But what begins as a promising opportunity and a wonderful escape quickly becomes pure chaos. The visiting zoo with an odd assortment of animals–including an ostrich that causes even more trouble than Jacob’s missing toy–only make matters worse, as Olivia’s summer is shaping up to be just as consumed by Jacob’s needs as the rest of her life has been.
In time, and with the help of some unlikely alliances, Olivia must learn what it means to be separate from her brother and still love him, how to love herself in spite of her own flaws, and that not all lost things are meant to be found.
Thank you Penguin Young Reader and Philomel Books for sending me a copy of The Ostrich and Other Lost Things. All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.
I am not an affiliate so I will not receive any money from any purchases made by clicking the links to buy the book.