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PHANTOM LIMBS by Paula Garner


by Paula Garner

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8205-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Past and present collide when an old friend comes to town in Garner’s debut.

When Meg Brandt sends Otis Mueller a message notifying him of her return, he can barely believe it. Three years ago, after Otis' little brother, Mason, died, the Brandt family left Chicago, and Otis lost his best friend. Otis is hollow after losing two of the most important people in his life. Without any communication or contact from Meg, Otis has reluctantly moved on, devoting his time to swimming with newfound friend and unofficial coach Dara Svetcova, who struggles with losses of her own. Awaiting Meg's return, Otis wishes to close the chasm between them. Unsure how to balance Dara's military-grade training schedule and his hopes for tentative reconciliation with Meg, Otis has a long summer ahead of him. Otis' fixation on Meg teeters between endearing and obsessive. His awareness of the infatuation tempers inner monologues of constant anguish over the fractured relationship. Motherless Dara, an amputee, is quite the foil, brusquely dismissing heavy emotions and trauma. Feeling threatened by Otis' bond with Meg, she struggles to support his healing process. The inability to let go of the past pushes all three white teens beyond their comfort zones into uncharted territory, Garner slowly and steadily guiding readers through these journeys.

A heavy read weighted by intense emotions and grief, the novel sifts through tough memories, searching for the silver lining.

(Fiction. 14-18)