The intricacies of family violence are explored in this lyrical novel.
As she begins her senior year of high school, Leighton precariously balances her commitment to her two younger sisters with her desperation to flee her father’s ongoing abusive behavior. Smart, driven, and self-possessed, she’s been focused on earning her way into NYU and is unprepared for the emotional shake-up that comes with a romance that grows between her and Liam, a fellow student whose nuanced kindness eventually wins her over. Details about an ever growing population of almost preternatural crows in her small Pennsylvania town and her family’s house's spontaneously repairing itself when her dad breaks things in the midst of his rages are juxtaposed against Leighton’s authentic, intimate first-person narration, providing an element of the otherworldly that is likely to either appeal mightily to or confuse readers, depending on their taste for magical realism. Strong writing that features some dreamily lovely turns of phrase and language stands out, and the dynamics of domestic violence, including Leighton’s simultaneous love for and frustration with her mother, are portrayed in all their complexity without feeling pedantic. Leighton and her family are white. Liam’s mother is black and his father is white, and his experience as one of the few people of color in their town adds texture to his character development.
A powerful, thoughtful, and
ultimately hopeful debut. (Fiction. 14-18)