Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-05-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in fictional Alvin, Ala., in 1987, Canadian author Hiebert’s first novel courts comparison to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, with its similar themes of justice and racism and its cast of characters—essentially Mockingbird’s key players with the sexes reversed. But the book manages to soar as a moving achievement in its own right. Tensions are already rife in the Teal household as headstrong 14-year-old Carry discovers boys, ditches 11-year-old brother Abe (the narrator), and constantly battles equally determined mom Leah Teal, a widowed police officer. Then 14-year-old Mary Ann Dailey disappears on her way home from school. Leah plunges into the investigation—as well as resurgent guilt over her failure in 1975 to find the kidnapper of another girl, who eventually turned up under a willow with her throat slit. Abe—precocious in some ways but still childish enough to enjoy rock-balancing competitions with his best friend, Dewey—struggles to make sense of the dark forces dividing his town, as well as the mysterious ways the wider world works. In Hiebert’s sure hands, psychological insight and restrained lyricism combine to create a coming-of-age tale as devastating as it is indelible. Agent: Adrienne Rosado, Nancy Yost Literary Associates. (July)