FICTION

Every Bone a Prayer

Sourcebooks Landmark. Aug. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781728216218. pap. $16.95. F
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DEBUT This glimmering, painfully honest first novel tells the story of ten-year-old Misty, who lives in an Appalachian holler with her feuding parents and an older sister to whom she is closely bonded. Misty’s ability to talk with crayfish, birds, trees, and even inanimate objects proves her salvation. When strange sculptures suddenly sprout in their landlord Earl’s barren garden and the boy next door becomes too familiar, Misty’s story is touched by both magic and the sordid reality of sexual abuse. As she faces these troubles, Misty literally learns to separate from her skin—not as in a dissociative identity disorder, with different personalities, but as a physical separation that allows her to dwell in the world differently and more safely, at least for the time being. As she reaches out to the ghostly, troubling voice of the garden to understand what’s happening in her world, she also comes to understand what happened earlier to a woman who once lived with Earl and learns how to protect—and finally to be—herself.
VERDICT A beautifully rendered coming-of-age tale for a wide range of readers.

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