Nothing Here But Stones

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
March/April 2006

By Nancy Oswald, Reviewed by Hannah Ritter

Nothing Here But Stones book cover

Nothing Here But Stones, by Nancy Oswald;
Henry Holt and Company: New York, 2004;
$16.95

“Bookworm” may be one of the best words you could use to describe me. Ever since I was little I could be found curled up in the oddest places, deep in a story, obviously oblivious to the real world. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, but lately I have been disappointed to find that not many of the newer books have the same quality of writing as the classics. That is why I was thrilled when I read Nothing Here But Stones. When I read the jacket cover I knew right away that this was going to be a great book with writing that I’d love. When I read the first sentence I was immediately pulled into Emma’s body where I watched through the eyes of a Jewish immigrant girl as she started her life over in a new land. It would be hard on any eleven-year-old girl to leave the country she had been born in to live in a country where she didn’t even speak the language, but to make it worse Emma’s mother had died not long before they moved. This left Emma in a new country with no friends, almost no belongings, and a big hole of emptiness in her heart. Through the whole book I could feel the heavy sadness Emma had and could understand it. I had felt the same kind of loneliness once when I lost many good friends. I went from having a big group of best friends (about eight) and over-night they wouldn’t speak to me and would turn their back to me when they saw me. They were dead to me in a sense and left me lonely and friendless for a while. Emma was worse off than I was though. I had a loving family who supported me and Emma really didn’t have anyone to go to. I was glad in the end, when she finally felt loved. I felt happy all over and felt like it was me who finally felt accepted.

I loved this book because not only was the story line great, but the author had a way of writing that made me feel like I was Emma. This and the beautiful descriptions she used made the story seem real, like it was happening the moment I read it. Even though all the characters in this story and the story itself were fiction I could visualize everything the author described.

I also enjoyed reading this book because the author, Nancy Oswald, accomplished something while writing it, which I have always wanted to do. The mountain she described in the story (where Emma lived) is actually a real mountain in Colorado. From 1882 to 1884 (around the same time the story took place), Jewish immigrants like Emma and her family really did settle there. Today the author and her family own the land the mountain stands on. I have always wanted to write about something in my family’s history or something old, but I have not been able to come up with anything—yet.

I enjoyed this book very much and am glad I was able to read it. It has even made it to My Top Ten Favorite Books (a poster I make every year). Nancy Oswald definitely has created a must-read book which I will strongly encourage my friends to read.

Nothing Here But Stones Hannah Ritter

Hannah Ritter, 11
La Crosse, Wisconsin

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