An Empty House Doesn't Sneeze

Young Adult - Coming of Age
335 Pages
Reviewed on 06/30/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Drawing from two decades as a sixth-grade teacher, David Scott Richardson recognizes history as the keel that keeps us upright in heavy seas and aims to forge a connection with those who were more than a generation unborn when the world went to war.

Richardson’s characters convey nuanced and diverse perspectives as they work to unravel ethical knots—from the origins of war to the meaning of a promise—and shed light on how beliefs and fears influence one’s choices. His themes probe father-son conflicts, grief, and ethical dilemmas, all while invoking an innate connection with nature, compelling the heart as much as the mind.

Richardson’s first MG/YA historical novel, River’s Reach: Coming of Age Amid the Fish War, was published in September 2023.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Carol Thompson for Readers' Favorite

An Empty House Doesn’t Sneeze by David Scott Richardson transports readers to a vividly depicted 1943 Pacific Northwest, where the specter of World War II looms large but is filtered through the innocent yet perceptive lens of 15-year-old Scotty Johannsen. Richardson deftly weaves together the historical backdrop with Scotty’s personal journey, creating a heartwarming and nostalgic coming-of-age tale that will resonate with readers of all ages. Set against the backdrop of Seattle during wartime and told from the POV of Scotty, the novel immerses readers in a world of blackouts, bomb shelters, rationing, and victory gardens, where every aspect of life is touched by the war effort. Despite these challenges, Scotty and his friends find solace and adventure in the familiar terrain of Ravenna Park.

The narrative gains momentum with the emergence of a neighborhood mystery: a series of fires set during blackouts, threatening the community’s safety and unity. As Scotty’s father, an air raid warden, becomes embroiled in the investigation, Scotty is drawn into the intrigue. An Empty House Doesn’t Sneeze by David Scott Richardson skillfully navigates themes of loyalty, trust, and the moral complexities faced by adolescents thrust into adult dilemmas. When suspicion of the fires is cast on Scotty’s draft-aged brother, a layer of tension is added, testing Scotty’s understanding of justice and the complexities of wartime allegiances. David Scott Richardson crafts a compelling narrative that keeps the story moving. The novel is a blend of historical fiction and coming-of-age adventure, suitable for middle-grade and young adult readers as well as anyone nostalgic for a bygone era. Richardson’s storytelling makes this a memorable and enjoyable read, sure to leave a lasting impression on readers. An Empty House Doesn’t Sneeze would make an excellent movie.