What I Came to Tell You

What I Came to Tell You

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Editorial Reviews

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
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Devastated by the accidental death of his mother, 12-year-old Grover looks to his 10-year-old sister, Sudie; intriguing new neighbors; and his own artistic talents for relief from his anguish. This moving, but often heavy-handed novel describes Grover's journey through rage and pain to a peaceful state of acceptance. His father is a workaholic and his sister also struggles with her grief. Grover, at first withdrawn and sullen, soon falls for the girl next door, just as his father develops feelings for the girl's widowed mother. Set in Asheville, North Carolina, the story has a pleasing Southern flavor, and the author includes details about the city's most famous resident, novelist Thomas Wolfe. Grover's father doesn't appreciate his son's talent for creating pieces of art out of bamboo. However, when the bamboo forest is threatened, Grover's friends and family rally to save his artistic endeavors. A budding romance and an almost-fatal fire move the book along, as do other, quieter events. Grover finds out more about the accident that killed his mother and begins to stop blaming himself. The characters are sympathetic, especially Grover and Sudie, but the happily-ever-after ending stretches credibility, and the story is not especially subtle or unique in its treatment of death and loss. Nonetheless, this well-written novel will appeal to readers with artistic or literary leanings, or those with a fondness for Southern settings.—Miranda Doyle, Lake Oswego School District, OR
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606845455
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Age range: 10 years

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