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.
Praise for The Ostrich and Other Lost Things:
"The Ostrich and Other Lost Things is a delicate, warm, textured novel that explores the wonder, pain, envy, and intimacy of sibling relationships. Written with a huge dose of compassion and vulnerability, there is so much to love about the world Olivia and her brother Jacob inhabit. I lost myself in this wonderful world, and I know that Olivia herself wouldn't be able to find me."--Corey Ann Haydu, author of The Someday Suitcase and Rules for Stealing Stars
"Beth Hautala weaves a powerful tale about the challenges of having a sibling with autism. Olivia steals our heart as she tries to find what is lost and make her family whole again. The Ostrich and Other Lost Things is full of memorable characters, riveting moments, and surprising turns that add up to a very heartwarming and magical read. I loved it!"--Dana Middleton, author of The Infinity Year of Avalon James
"A brave beautiful story. I loved this book."--Paul Acampora, author of I Kill the Mockingbird
"Hautala offers an emotionally adept story about love and understanding."--School Library Journal
"This is hands down the best book with an autistic character that I have ever read. I would recommend this title for those who enjoy books like Wonder (Knopf, 2012), Out of My Mind (Atheneum, 2010), and The Running Dream (Knopf, 2011). It has a wonderful plot that readers will love and teaches a lot about dealing with individuals who are diagnosed with autism. This is a must read!"--School Library Connection
"A heartfelt story of sibling relationships, self-discovery, and unconditional love."--Voice of Youth A