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