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Donna RifkindLike Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie and Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, Laura Moriarty's first novel, The Center of Everything, owed its success to the immense likability of a young female protagonist. Mixing just the right combination of solemnity and cheer, Moriarty turned a potentially sappy coming-of-age tale into a full-on charmer with the voice of her 10-year-old narrator, Evelyn Bucknow of Kerrville, Kan., who courageously traversed a hard-luck childhood without any false moves. In her second novel, the author has achieved an even more impressive goal, inspiring compassion for a character unblessed with Evelyn's immediate appeal…Moriarty's novel shows that it is not literature's job to be uplifting, or even to be beautiful. It is literature's job to say yes, to every corner of every life: yes to disaffected characters like Leigh as well as to winsome ones like Evelyn Bucknow; yes to grief as much as to solace; yes to wrongdoers as well as to the wronged; and yes most of all to "our weak attempts," as Leigh acknowledges, "to feel each other's burdens."
—The Washington Post