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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The story of Owen : dragon slayer of Trondheim
by E K Johnston

Book list *Starred Review* When Owen's legendary dragon-slayer aunt is too injured to continue her vocation, she starts teaching him the ways of the family business. And when Owen meets Siobhan, their friendship becomes part of an epic saga, as Siobhan turns into Owen's bard and tells the tale of his adventures to help him change the future of dragon slaying forever. Johnston's masterful book is a refreshing blend of alternative history, high fantasy, and contemporary teen life. Johnston has done careful research for her intricate world building, and the result is strikingly original and believable. Elements from our world are delicately shaped to fit this alternative, such as the Romans taking dragon slayers from their hometowns and conscripting them into service for the state. Even less illustrious historical elements the songs of Gordon Lightfoot, for example are now dragon related. But for all the emphasis on her world, Johnston does not neglect the depth of her characters: Owen and Siobhan's friendship is a beautiful, solid thing, and the authenticity of their relationship goes a long way to making this strange world more familiar. Siobhan's narration, in particular, perfectly blends her dry humor with her musical talent. Johnston, like Siobhan, knows how to spin a tale.--Wildsmith, Snow Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Siobhan is a typical teenager. Her hobbies include composing music, hanging out with friends, and driving her first car. Her biggest conflict is whether or not to tell her parents that she would rather pursue music than go to a university. All of that changes when she meets Owen Thorskard, currently failing algebra and potentially the nation's next great dragon slayer. Owen, nephew of famous Slayer Lottie Thorskard, goes to high school by day and trains to protect the rural town of Trondheim by night. The two teens become friends when it becomes painfully evident that Owen needs a math tutor. Little does Siobhan know that she's signing up for a lot more than tutoring. Soon she finds herself working as Owen's personal Bard. While he slays, she documents; together they work to show the country that dragon slayers are needed in more than just the big cities. Johnston seamlessly blends fantasy with realistic fiction; readers will have a hard time remembering that dragons aren't an everyday aspect of life. Suggest this title to reluctant readers as the fast-paced plot and witty dialogue will keep them turning pages until the tale's exciting conclusion. A great addition for any library with a strong fantasy following.-Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Debut novelist Johnston envisions an Earth nearly identical to our own, with one key difference: dragons, whose attraction to carbon emissions-whether from campfires or cars-makes them a persistent threat. Everything from pop music to industry, literature, and the historical record has been influenced. The Sahara desert has its roots in a botched dragon slaying after Rome conquered Carthage; centuries later, the logo for the Detroit Red Wings symbolizes the loss of an entire state: "the wheel, for the car that had brought Michigan up, and the wing, for the dragons that had brought it down." After 16-year-old Siobhan McQuaid agrees to become the bard for dragon-slayer-in-training Owen Thorskard, who has moved with his famous dragon-slaying family to her small Ontario town, she winds up at the center of a grassroots effort to understand an odd spike in dragon numbers. Siobhan's narration sings thanks to her dry wit, intelligence, and ability to see the inherent musicality of life, while also commenting on the unreliability of history (and storytelling) and the power of a community to rally to save itself. Ages 11-up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons.
by Laura Purdie Salas

Publishers Weekly Organized in four sections beginning with spring, Salas's lovely haiku are written in the voices of animals and organic or inanimate objects related to the seasons. "Fire in our bellies,/ we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight-/ rich meadow of stars," speak the summer's fireflies. Each haiku contains a riddle element-readers must guess the narrator (in an author's note, Salas refers to the form as a "riddle-ku"). It's not always clear who, or what, is speaking, but LA3pez's evocative acrylics visually communicate the imagery within the poems. "I'm a WRIGGLING tube,/ soft underground tunneler-/ I fear early birds," one announces. The small bird hovering over a hole clues readers in to the speaker's identity: a worm. The book's meditative tone and resonant images invite readers to embrace new ways of seeing the world around them. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Divided into four sections by season, these "riddle-ku" poems use innovative language to represent something traditionally associated with each one. (For back-to-school in fall, for example: what is "a yellow train / carrying thoughts from your brain / to the waiting page?" A pencil.) In addition to helping readers solve the puzzles, the supporting acrylic and digital illustrations capture movement and texture through strong lines and seasonal hues. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus In this spirited collaboration, Salas and Lpez present 24 suggestive poetic snapshots chronicling the cycle of a year. Highlighting season-appropriate objects for spring, fall, summer, and winter, Salas magnifies the spareness of the haiku form by turning each concentrated first-person portrait into a riddle as she tantalizingly omits naming the subject describing itself. Meanwhile Lpez offers young and pre-readers florid visual hints, depicting in deft brush strokes and lush colors the author's hidden subjects. Combined, these artists render objects gentle as summer's fireflies ("fire in our bellies / we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight / rich meadow of stars") or winter's snowflakes ("I'm cold confetti / falling from a crystal sky, / blanketing the town," here shown as a white-roofed town in a snow globe painted against a wintry verdigris sky spackled with haphazard white blots) or bold as a fall jack-o'-lantern ("I perch on the porch, / spooky face frozen in place, / fire BURNING inside"glowering large with flaming orange eyes as the finger of a ghostly trick-or-treater rings the doorbell in the background). What sets this volume apart from similar haiku explorations of the seasons is the tight synthesis of visual object and oblique verbal depiction, making for both wonderfully contemplative experiences of each illustrated poem and the seamless progression of nature's cycle through the year.Richly rewarding and clever: a visually arresting, inventive treatment of a popular subject. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 1-4-A sleek bird kite flown by a child in springtime kicks off this poetic collection of seasonal objects, animals, and activities. Six poems per season invite audience observation and enjoyment. First-time readers may not realize that each haiku is also a riddle with a list of answers found at the end of the book. Only in her concluding author's note does Salas describe the structure she calls "riddle-ku." Readers are meant to guess the identity of the non-human narrator in each poem. She also notes that the non-human voices make these "mask poems." Simple instructions then encourage readers to compose their own riddle-ku. The expansive acrylic scenes featuring children, animals and/or objects offer visual cues about the narrators. For instance, the leaves talk as a child happily bounces in a pile of them. Salas often sets a playful tone and is adept with language. Her diction and syntax are simple and fun. Paired with other seasonal materials, this book offers ample discussion and teaching opportunities with individual readers or groups. VERDICT This well-crafted work contains versatile possibilities for classrooms and libraries.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list In this charming, beautifully illustrated collection, arranged by season, Salas employs a form she calls riddle-ku, a first-person haiku that hints at the speaker, inviting readers to guess its identity, typically an object or being associated with a season. For example, Spring opens with I am a wind bird, / sky skipper, diamond dipper, / DANCING on your string, and López's accompanying illustration depicts a soaring, large, red, bird-shaped kite guided by a boy holding the string below. Summer showcases fireflies, baseball, and fireworks. Fall features a school building ( my first-day outfit / is fresh paint and polished floors / here come my new friends! ), apple picking, and jack-o'-lanterns, while Winter includes snow, ice skates, and a hibernating animal: In fur coat and cave / I exhale white clouds of breath, / DREAM of sun . . . green . . . spring. The eloquent language ranges from philosophical to whimsical, and that tone is reflected in the colorful acrylic paintings, which nicely combine realism and abstract touches and provide visual clues. An author's note offers the inspiration behind her riddle-ku, with encouragement for readers to create their own; an answer key; and a further-reading list. While the riddles' mystique may wane once little ones solve them, the wonderfully evocative, vivid imagery in text and art also make this a welcome addition for poetry classroom units.--Shelle Rosenfeld Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
by Simms Taback

Publishers Weekly : As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's inventive use of die-cut pages shows off his signature artwork, here newly created for his 1977 adaptation of a Yiddish folk song. This diverting, sequential story unravels as swiftly as the threads of Joseph's well-loved, patch-covered plaid coat. A flip of the page allows children to peek through to subsequent spreads as Joseph's tailoring produces items of decreasing size. The author puts a droll spin on his narrative when Joseph loses the last remnant of the coat--a button--and decides to make a book about it. "Which shows... you can always make something out of nothing," writes Taback, who wryly slips himself into his story by depicting Joseph creating a dummy for the book that readers are holding. Still, it's the bustling mixed-media artwork, highlighted by the strategically placed die-cuts, that steals the show. Taback works into his folk art a menagerie of wide-eyed animals witnessing the overcoat's transformation, miniature photographs superimposed on paintings and some clever asides reproduced in small print (a wall hanging declares, "Better to have an ugly patch than a beautiful hole"; a newspaper headline announces, "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof"). With its effective repetition and an abundance of visual humor, this is tailor-made for reading aloud. All ages. (Oct.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Pre-Gr 3-A book bursting at the seams with ingenuity and creative spirit. When Joseph's overcoat becomes "old and worn," he snips off the patches and turns it into a jacket. When his jacket is beyond repair, he makes a vest. Joseph recycles his garments until he has nothing left. But by trading in his scissors for a pen and paintbrush he creates a story, showing "you can always make something out of nothing." Clever die-cut holes provide clues as to what Joseph will make next: windowpanes in one scene become a scarf upon turning the page. Striking gouache, watercolor, and collage illustrations are chock-full of witty details-letters to read, proverbs on the walls, even a fiddler on the roof. Taback adapted this tale from a Yiddish folk song and the music and English lyrics are appended. The rhythm and repetition make it a perfect storytime read-aloud.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Beautiful World, Where Are You
by Sally Rooney

Publishers Weekly Rooney (Normal People) continues her exploration of class, sex, and mental health with a cool, captivating story about a successful Irish writer, her friend, and their lovers. Alice Kelleher, 29, has suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her work’s popularity. After moving from Dublin to a small seaside town, she meets Felix, a local with a similar background—they both grew up working-class, and both have absent fathers—who works in a shipping warehouse. She invites him to accompany her to Rome, where he falls in love with her but resents what he takes to be her superior attitude. Meanwhile, in Dublin, Alice’s university friend Eileen Lydon works a low-paying literary job and explores her attraction to a childhood friend who seems to return her feelings but continues seeing other women. Alice and Eileen update each other in long emails, which Rooney cleverly exploits for essayistic musings about culture, climate change, and political upheaval. Rooney establishes a distance from her characters’ inner lives, creating a sense of privacy even as she describes Alice and Eileen’s most intimate moments. It’s a bold change to her style, and it makes the illuminations all the more powerful when they pop. As always, Rooney challenges and inspires. Agent: Tracy Bohan, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Two erudite Irishwomen struggle with romance against the backdrop of the Trump/Brexit years. Eileen and Alice have been friends since their university days. Now in their late 20s, Eileen works as an editorial assistant at a literary magazine in Dublin. Alice is a famous novelist recovering from a psychiatric hospitalization and staying in a large empty rectory on the west coast of Ireland. Since Alice’s breakdown, the two have kept in touch primarily through lengthy emails that alternate between recounting their romantic lives and working through their angst about the current social and political climate. (In one of these letters, Eileen laments that the introduction of plastic has ruined humanity’s aesthetic calibration and in the next paragraph, she’s eager to know if Alice is sleeping with the new man she’s met.) Eileen has spent many years entangled in an occasionally intimate friendship with her teenage crush, a slightly older man named Simon who is a devout Catholic and who works in the Irish Parliament as an assistant. As Eileen and Simon’s relationship becomes more complicated, Alice meets Felix, a warehouse worker who is unsure what to make of her fame and aloofness. In many ways, this book, a work of both philosophy and romantic tragicomedy about the ways people love and hurt one another, is exactly the type of book one would expect Rooney to write out of the political environment of the past few years. But just because the novel is so characteristic of Rooney doesn’t take anything away from its considerable power. As Alice herself puts it, “Humanity on the cusp of extinction [and] here I am writing another email about sex and friendship. What else is there to live for?” A novel of capacious intelligence and plenty of page-turning emotional drama. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old Provençal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Back Roads
by Tawni O'Dell

Library Journal: Harley Altmyer might be the only 20-year-old virgin in the small Pennsylvania coal town where he lives, but for sure he is the only one with custody of three younger siblings--a responsibility inherited when his mother killed his abusive father and went to prison for life. While he works two dead-end jobs to support his sisters, Harley lusts after a married neighbor, Callie Mercer. When Callie indicates that she's attracted to him, too, the resulting sexual fireworks set off a series of events with tragic consequences. First novelist O'Dell, a trained journalist and a former exotic dancer, knows a lot about raging hormones, and she clearly has a good deal of affection for Harley (which the reader will share). She is less comfortable, however, with the demands of plot and character development. The last third of the novel is unnecessarily convoluted and rests uneasily on characters who are too sketchy to support the pieces of plot that they're carrying. Once O'Dell learns how to harness the runaway energy she brings to fiction, she'll be a writer to read; until then, only large public libraries should consider this for purchase.

Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Nineteen-year-old Harley is left to rear his three younger sisters after their mother is imprisoned for murdering their abusive father in this searing, hardscrabble Party of Five set in Pennsylvania mining country. Doubly resentful because his best friend is off at college, Harley spends his days slogging as a Shop Rite bagger and appliance-shop delivery person, coming home to cold cereal dinners prepared by six-year-old Jody. Harley is bitter about having to take over for his mother--"she still had us kids but we didn't have her"--and he can't shake the feeling that she prefers prison to their home life; a mystery lingers around his father's death. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Amber is sleeping her way through the town's teenage boys and flaunting her body in front of Harley; middle sister Misty, once her father's favorite and his hunting companion, practices shooting. Desperate for relief, Harley finds solace in rough but exhilarating encounters with married Callie Mercer, little Jody's best friend's mother, losing his virginity to her on a muddy creek bank and reveling in her sophisticated, sensitive words. But memories are stirring in his subconscious, and erotic dreams of the Virgin Mary metamorphose into nightmarish sexual visions. In his sessions with a court-appointed therapist, Harley edges closer to understanding his family's twisted dynamic, but it is only when the horrors of the present begin to catch up with those of the past that a series of shattering truths are revealed. By then it is too late for Harley to save everyone he loves, but in sacrificing himself, however hopelessly, he introduces a note of grace. O'Dell's scorching tale touches on all the tropes of dysfunctional families, but her characters fight free of stereotypes, taking on an angry, authentic glow. (Jan.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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