What I Came to Tell You by Tommy Hays, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
What I Came to Tell You

What I Came to Tell You

4.3 11
by Tommy Hays
     
 

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Since his mother died earlier this year, Grover Johnston (named after a character in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel) has watched his family fall to pieces as his father throws himself into his work rather than dealing with the pain. Left to care for his younger sister, Sudie, Grover finds solace in creating intricate weavings out of the natural materials found in

Overview

Since his mother died earlier this year, Grover Johnston (named after a character in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel) has watched his family fall to pieces as his father throws himself into his work rather than dealing with the pain. Left to care for his younger sister, Sudie, Grover finds solace in creating intricate weavings out of the natural materials found in the bamboo forest behind his North Carolina home, a pursuit that his father sees only as a waste of time.

But as tensions mount between father and son, two unlikely forces conspire to lead the Johnstons on a new path -- a presence that seems to come to Grover in his darkest moments and new tenants in the rental house across the street who have come from deep in the Carolina hills and plopped themselves right into Grover's life. The families seem so different but become increasingly intertwined, bound together in unexpected ways. Until one devastating disaster threatens to tear them apart.

Tender, touching, and utterly compelling, What I Came to Tell You, the first middle-grade novel from critically acclaimed Asheville author Tommy Hays, is a story of grief, love, and hard-won redemption.

A 2013 Fall Okra Pick, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
 
* “Hays is a gifted storyteller, offering up an effective balance of credible emotion, understated wisdom, and gentle humor.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
 
* “Hays is especially strong at depicting the network of people, old and young, who help Grover and his family move through their grief and, along the way, save his beloved forest.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“Hays’ story is filled with touching honesty and youthful wisdom, all of which help undergird Grover’s own discovery of the healing power of family, love, and art.”
—Booklist
 
“Readers will be quickly and surely drawn in by quirky siblings Grover and Sudie, rooting for them to find a measure of peace and happiness in the wake of tragedy.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Set in Asheville, North Carolina, the story has a pleasing Southern flavor.”
—School Library Journal
 
“Throw in some local politics, prejudice, budding romances, family tugs-of-war and an odd man who seems to linger everywhere, and you have a penetrating and complex story of loss and, ultimately, the rebuilding of a family. Tommy Hays’ first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You is a thoughtful, tender look at a family devastated by grief.”—BookPage 

Releases simultaneously in electronic book format (ISBN 978-1-60684-434-2

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Anna Katharina Schaffner is reader in comparative literature at the University of Kent. She has previously published on the histories of sexuality and psychoanalysis, modernist literature, and the avant-garde. Her most recent book is Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850–1930. Her first novel, The Truth about Julia, will be published in spring 2016.

Publishers Weekly
Twelve-year-old Grover loves making weavings out of leaves and branches he finds in a nearby bamboo forest, but he has other things on his mind, too. Mostly his mother, who was recently killed in a car accident, but also his younger sister, his pretty new neighbor, and his difficult relationship with his father, who works all the time and doesn’t even pretend to appreciate Grover’s art. In his middle-grade debut, adult author and North Carolinian Hays makes good use of the novel’s Asheville setting: Grover’s father runs the strapped-for-cash Thomas Wolfe house, and Asheville comes across as a cosmopolitan place with a small-town feel. Indeed, even as Grover is keeping an eye on his sister and his new neighbors, a lot of people are watching over him. Though the book spans just a few months, it’s packed with incident and complex connections between a range of characters. Hays is especially strong at depicting the network of people, old and young, who help Grover and his family move through their grief and, along the way, save his beloved forest. Ages 10–up. Agent: Neeti Madan, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Though the book spans just a few months, it's packed with incident and complex connections between a range of characters. Hays is especially strong at depicting the network of people, old and young, who help Grover and his family move through their grief and, along the way, save his beloved forest." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
Kirkus Reviews
Two lovable, grief-stricken children try to find their footing after their mother's death in a senseless accident. Twelve-year-old Grover and his little sister, Sudie, have already lost their mother, and now their father, director of the Thomas Wolfe house in Asheville, N.C., has practically disappeared as well, throwing himself into his work. Grover and Sudie spend most of their time in the city's Bamboo Forest, where Grover creates intricate weavings from bamboo, leaves and grass. When kids Emma Lee and Clay move in next door from Roan Mountain, Grover and Sudie discover they have the loss of a parent in common; Emma Lee and Clay's father was killed in Iraq. In addition to grief, this ambitious offering explores the meanings and value of art, faith and destiny, and Appalachian mountain culture. In a scene related to the latter, a student throws the slur "hillbilly" in Emma Lee's direction, and a boy named Daniel remarks that " ‘Hillbilly' is kind of like the N-word...except it's talking about mountain people." In some instances, the text veers toward the didactic, but the compelling characters and engaging prose put it squarely in the win column. Readers will be quickly and surely drawn in by quirky siblings Grover and Sudie, rooting for them to find a measure of peace and happiness in the wake of tragedy. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781606844342
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/2013
Series:
Fiction - Middle Grade
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
691,185
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Tommy Hays is the author of three novels for adults, including The Pleasure Was Mine. He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and a lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He lives in Asheville with his family.

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