One Foot Wrong

One Foot Wrong

by Sofie Laguna
     
 

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The stars shine brightest out of the deepest dark . . .” A child is imprisoned in a house by her reclusive, religious parents. Hester Wakefield has never spoken to another child, nor seen the outside world. Her one possession is an illustrated children’s Bible, and its imagery forms the sole basis for her capacity to make poetic, real-life connections.

Overview

The stars shine brightest out of the deepest dark . . .” A child is imprisoned in a house by her reclusive, religious parents. Hester Wakefield has never spoken to another child, nor seen the outside world. Her one possession is an illustrated children’s Bible, and its imagery forms the sole basis for her capacity to make poetic, real-life connections. Her companions at home are Cat, Spoon, Door, Handle, Broom, and Tree, and they all speak to her, sometimes telling her what to do. One day she takes a brave Alice in Wonderland trip into the forbidden outside, at the behest of Handle, and this overwhelming encounter with light and sky and sunshine is a marvel to her. From this moment on, Hester learns that there are some things she cannot tell her parents, and she keeps this secret to herself. Hester buries it among her other secrets, the ones that take place in the shadowy corners of her insular world, and she keeps them all locked inside her as they multiply and grow, waiting until she can find other ways to be free.

One Foot Wrong
challenges the boundaries of right and wrong, sanity and madness, love and justice, poetry and life. The story told by Hester is often dark and harrowing, but the affecting impact of her distinctive voice and her way of seeing the world illuminates every page and makes this novel an exhilarating, enlightening and, ultimately, an uplifting and transformative experience.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Australian actor and young-adult writer Laguna (Too Loud Lily) delivers a grim, creepy, powerful first-person narrative about a direly neglected child whose knowledge of the world is severely circumscribed by her fanatically Christian parents. Told entirely in the solipsistic point of view of Hester, the only child of paranoid, abusive parents, the novel pursues the girl's deeply troubling relationship with them and their bizarre world view. Begrudged her difficult birth, Hester is routinely hung, Christ-like, from her arms in the basement by her depressed mother, who sequesters the young girl in their shared cabin, her only book The Abridged Picture Bible. Hester's brief foray to school, thanks to the intervention of the town authorities, proves eye-opening (she makes her first friend, Mary), but ultimately disastrous. Molested by her father through her adolescence, Hester is finally institutionalized when her parents can no longer control her. Laguna's rendering of Hester's fragile mental state is sympathetic and touching, especially through imagined dialogue with inanimate objects and in the friendship Hester makes with Mary, and then in the institution, with Norma. A truly haunting tale that readers won't soon forget, from a compelling, original voice. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Children's author Laguna (Too Loud Lily, 2004, etc.) takes a dark turn in her first novel for adults. Imprisoned in her home by a fanatically religious mother and a cowed father, Hester has almost no contact with the outside world. Her universe is defined by the interior of her house, snatched glimpses of the outside, an illustrated Bible and, most crucially, her imagination. Hester befriends every object she beholds and crafts magnificent fantasies. From the outside, her existence seems lonely and bleak-her parents don't just neglect her; they actively abuse her-but it is actually full of wonders. Laguna does an admirable job of creating a credible, fully formed young protagonist and narrator. She knows that a child's experience, no matter how horrific it might be, seems natural and normal to the child. Hester's innocence is compounded by her isolation: She has virtually no opportunity to understand how wrong her life is. The chief accomplishment of this strange and difficult novel is her unique voice. Laguna writes with lyrical economy, and her craft elevates a tale which in its bare outlines seems like sensational tabloid fare. A disturbing story graced by powerful, poetic prose.
From the Publisher
“A powerful and extremely disturbing novel… The lyricism of Hester’s astonishingly beautiful and myopic voice is constant, even when the plot becomes terrifying and tragic…. This is an extraordinary, poetic novel that gives as much as it takes...it will also open a door on perception and understanding.”—Blogcritics.org

"A truly haunting tale that readers won’t soon forget, from a compelling, original voice."—Publishers Weekly

"Laguna writes with lyrical economy, and her craft elevates a tale which in its bare outlines seems like sensational tabloid fare...A disturbing story graced by powerful, poetic prose."—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590513347
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
08/18/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

I slept at the feet of Boot and Sack. My one small bed went longways across the end of their big one. If I turned my head in the night and the moon was shining through, I could see the hill of Boot’s feet beside my face. Sack’s feet I couldn’t see but I knew they were there–no shoes, tipped-over and sleeping. Every night Sack pulled my blankets tight around me, pressing me down. “Lie still, Hester, not a peep from you, not a wriggle.” Every night I lay on my back looking up through the dark at the grey paint cloud, at its cracks in the shapes of wings, and the white curtain sometimes blowing.

Cat was there and together we’d wait for the bird dream. Cat’s bird dream was hiding in the long grass, a fast chase and a jump. In my bird dream everything was white without walls. Bird sang and flew and so did I. Then bird became many birds. Every part of me moved with the many birds–my fingers, hair, and toes all swirled and twirled in bird circles. Which was me and which was bird?

A secret has no sound; it lives in your darkest corner where it sits and waits.
Sometimes it gives a jump or a wriggle but mostly it waits like the spider waits for the fly. A secret grows thick like the ball of web the spider weaves around the fly when he makes the trap. Fly can’t breathe or smell in there–his world sticks against his face, small as his own eyes.

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Meet the Author

Sofie Laguna has previously written for children and young adults, including Surviving Aunt Marsha and Too Loud Lily (Scholastic). She is also an actor. One Foot Wrong is her first adult novel. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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