Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 13, 2016: Maximum Shelf: Before the Fall

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Quotation of the Day

'For Love OR Money Cannot Be the Question'

Pam Grath

"A terrible and dangerous cultural myth has grown up around independent bookstores. The myth tells people that booksellers don't want or need to sell books because all they want is to spend time around other people who love books and talk to people about books they love.


"Employees clock in and out and get paychecks. Business owners do not.... Librarians are on salary; I am not. When I'm in my bookshop, I'm at work, and my work is selling books. Yes, of course I love conversation about books with customers in my shop. It just can't be an either/or proposition--either talk or sell books--because if I'm forced to that choice, another follows directly on its heels: selling books or closing the door.... We booksellers may be dreamers, but we live in the real world, too. Please feel free to join us there."

--Pamela Grath, owner of Dog Ears Books, Northport, Mich., in a blog post headlined "For Love OR Money Cannot Be the Question"

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black


'Writers, Come to North Carolina'

Wiley Cash (A Land More Kind Than Home; This Dark Road to Mercy), who lives in North Carolina, offers this open letter:

Wiley Cash
(photo: Tiffany B. Davis)

It started with a fight over bathrooms in Charlotte, N.C.. The local government made it legal for people to use restrooms based on the gender with which they identify. Conservatives around the state reacted by raising the specter of a boogeyman dressed as a woman hiding out in restrooms with the sole intent of spying on women and young girls. The North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed that action must be taken "to protect women and children." Southern states and southern governors said the same thing after Reconstruction. White women and children needed protection from the boogeyman of racial equality and the danger of living, eating and learning alongside African Americans. Those laws became known as Jim Crow, and we now see them for what they were: unconstitutional and un-American. This new law is known as House Bill 2. Hopefully it won't take us decades to see it for the hateful piece of legislation that it is.

HB2 goes much further than limiting bathroom use to one's "biological sex." It all but legalizes discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. It also limits the authority of North Carolina cities in providing anti-discrimination protections for people in the LGBTQ community. It may have started with a fight over bathrooms, but it quickly grew into legislation that marginalizes large swaths of our state's population.

The reaction has been swift. PayPal pulled 400 jobs from North Carolina. The NBA is threatening to remove the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte. Other states have instituted travel bans. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a sold-out concert in Greensboro. Hundreds of businesses are watching closely as they decide whether to leave the state or withdraw plans to come here in the first place. Unfortunately, writers are following suit.

Sherman Alexie recently cancelled an event at Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville in response to HB2. The event was in support of his new children's book, and he was scheduled to speak to groups from local schools. Malaprop's expected that hundreds of local kids would hear Alexie's message of inclusivity, a message that could never be more important or resonant than now. Alexie's visit was projected to sell hundreds of copies of his books, a huge boost to what is arguably Asheville and the state's most LGBTQ-friendly business. Asheville is progressive and cool and funky, and Malaprop's has been on the forefront in driving it and keeping it this way. Losing Alexie's voice is a blow to both the bookstore's mission and its financial sheet.

When people like Sherman Alexie or Bruce Springsteen refuse to visit North Carolina, it does not hurt Governor Pat McCrory or the conservatives in the General Assembly; it helps them. It helps them by silencing Alexie's message of self-actualization, a message now lost on school children who may be struggling with issues of sexuality, diversity and bullying. It stops Springsteen's ballads of economic disenfranchisement from reaching the ears of a state struggling with wage gaps and the vice-grip of generational poverty.

What if it were the other way around? I know I'd be devastated if my friends at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H., or at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., cancelled my event simply because I'm from North Carolina. But I know that wouldn't happen. Booksellers are smart, thoughtful, discerning people. They understand that the place you're from does not taint the message you plan to bring with you. As authors, we could stand to learn something from them.

Writers, come to North Carolina and bring your message, your anger, your frustration and your ideas. Don't marginalize us the way North Carolina has marginalized its LGBTQ citizens. Don't abandon us. Don't give up on us. Don't overlook us. Help us as we're doing our best to help one another and ourselves.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!


Ingram Outlines New Distribution Structure

In a letter to its established Ingram Publisher Services clients and the more than 600 new distribution clients joining the company after the March 31 purchase of Perseus Books Group's distribution business, Ingram Content Group outlined how it will structure its much larger distribution operations and emphasized that after buying "one of the best companies in distribution... our role during this integration is to make sure that all of our clients continue to receive the very best sales and distribution support for their books."

With the aim of taking "advantage of the scale of Ingram while making sure that our clients continue to get the service they expect from the distribution companies," Ingram plans to continue with "separate distribution brands serving publishers with diverse businesses and needs." The various parts of Perseus's distribution business consist of Publishers Group West, Consortium Book Distribution, Perseus Distribution, Legato and Constellation.

"Our intent with the 'brand structure' is to retain as much client management, sales force leadership and marketing as possible within individual business units," the letter continued. "We'll also have a 'shared services' sales force that will handle markets that are tough to handle through national and other major accounts."

Phil Ollila

Under the new structure, Ingram chief content officer Phil Ollila, who reports to Ingram president and CEO Shawn Morin, will be in charge of the distribution business. (The founder of IPS, Ollila also oversees Lightning Source, CoreSource, wholesale buying and marketing for Ingram.)

Mark Ouimet, who has directly led IPS (and earlier worked at PGW), will run IPS Full Service, PGW, Consortium and Legato. Sabrina McCarthy, who has run Perseus distribution services and sales, will oversee current Perseus Distribution business and a few other units, including Ingram's 'logistics only' clients, with Carter Holliday reporting to her.

Sean Shoemaker will lead PGW, Julie Schaper will lead Consortium, Jeff Tegge will manage Legato (and now report to Sean Shoemaker) and Margery Buchanan will manage the client relationships with the IPS full service team. Within this group, Kim Wylie is going to lead sales strategy and national accounts for IPS, PGW and Legato, and Julia Cowlishaw (IPS) and Mark Hillesheim (Legato) will report to Wylie. The Consortium national accounts sales leadership and structure remains the same, reporting to Jim Nichols.

Heidi Sachner will continue to lead the Perseus Distribution clients and report to McCarthy. A stand-alone national accounts group consisting of both current and new reps will support Perseus Distribution clients.

Matty Goldberg will lead IPS's acquisition strategies and help Ouimet, McCarthy and Ollila with strategic client relationships and development. Gonzalo Ferreyra and Caitlin Churchill will now report to Goldberg.

On the international side, Meredith Greenhouse now reports to McCarthy and will grow IPS's distribution footprint. Canada is now part of the international sales group, and Keith Arsenault will report to Greenhouse.

Major accounts coverage will continue to be served through Perseus Distribution, PGW, IPS, Consortium and Legato, with most of the same salespeople with the same roles. "Field Sales (Perseus Distribution, PGW and Legato), Gift and Specialty and Mass accounts are a different story," Ingram continued. "With so many accounts spread across such a large geography, our thinking is that we will have these accounts report up to a 'shared services' sales group" that will be led by Jeanne Emanuel, who will report to chief commercial officer Shawn Everson, who has led the retail, export, library and periodicals business for Ingram.

Elise Cannon will lead field sales for indie stores, and Mary Faria will lead the mass segments. Emanuel will also continue to lead the gift and specialty group. Sandy Hernandez and Judy Witt will both report to Emanuel, and her team is taking on Ingram's gift, specialty and mass group, too. Cannon's team will continue to support indie sales for the distribution brands with the exception of Consortium and Ingram Publisher Services, and they won't sell Ingram wholesale.

Ingram expects over time to adjust territories to improve coverage of many indie customers so that reps have less travel time and more selling time, approaches that will extend to Ingram reps. Consortium's commission sales team continues to represent Consortium clients as part of Jim Nichols's team.

Lemony Snicket 'Noble Librarians' Prize to Baltimore Manager

Melanie Townsend Diggs, Noble Librarian

Melanie Townsend Diggs, Pennsylvania Avenue Branch manager of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, is this year's recipient of the 2016 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel (Lemony Snicket) Handler will co-present the prize during the American Library Association's Annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando. Townsend Diggs will receive $10,000, and an "an odd, symbolic object" from Handler's private collection. 

Lemony Snicket jury chair Julius C. Jefferson Jr. said Townsend Diggs "is a true activist librarian, serving the needs of the community first." On April 19, 2015, a week after Baltimore City Police took 25-year-old Freddie Gray into custody, he was dead. This sparked protests, demonstrations and civil unrest at the intersection where Gray was arrested and where the library branch is located. Townsend Diggs was on duty April 27 when an angry and frustrated crowd approached the block. She took several steps to safeguard staff and patrons, and later met with Enoch Pratt CEO Carla Hayden to decide whether they should open the next day.

They did open, and Townsend Diggs said "in some ways it was a typical day, with people coming and going. But you also would have seen customers and community leaders coming in and thanking us for being open. A woman bringing us flowers, pastries. The media coming in to charge up their batteries, use the restrooms. You would have seen a young man coming in to fill out a job application online, and then coming back the next day to say that he had an interview scheduled for May 5. All of these things happened. If we had not opened our doors, we would have missed all those things....

"I've been a librarian for more than 20 years, and as difficult and scary as this week has been, I love the fact that it has shown people that we're here," said Townsend Diggs. "Sometimes people don't realize all we do as librarians. We're the light in the community, the pathway to resources, we provide access to a world of possibilities. Situations like this shed light on a profession that often gets overlooked"

Handler commented: "During troubled times, we need open minds. Open minds need open books. Open books require an open library, and the work of Melanie Townsend Diggs provided such a necessary and hopeful beacon."

Mississippi Authors Oppose 'Discriminatory HB 1523'


Ninety-five writers from Mississippi, including John Grisham, Natasha Trethewey, Jesmyn Ward and Donna Tartt, have signed a statement opposing the discriminatory HB 1523, the so-called "religious freedom" bill that specifically targets LGBTQ populations. The authors' statement reads:

"Mississippi has a thousand histories, but these can be boiled down to two strains: our reactionary side, which has nourished intolerance and degradation and brutality, which has looked at difference as a threat, which has circled tightly around the familiar and the monolithic; and our humane side, which treasures compassion and charity and a wide net of kinship, which is fascinated by character and story, which is deeply involved in the daily business of our neighbors. This core kindness, the embracing of wildness and weirdness, is what has nurtured the great literature that has come from our state. What literature teaches us is empathy. It reminds us to reach out a hand to our neighbors--even if they look different from us, love different from us--and say, 'Why, I recognize you; you're a human, just like me, sprung from the same messy place, bound on the same hard road.' Mississippi authors have written through pain, and they have written out of disappointment, but they have also written from wonder, and pride, and a fierce desire to see the politics of this state live up to its citizens. It is deeply disturbing to so many of us to see the rhetoric of hate, thinly veiled, once more poison our political discourse. But Governor Phil Bryant and the Mississippi legislators who voted for this bill are not the sole voices of our state. There have always been people here battling injustice. That’s the version of Mississippi we believe in, and that’s the Mississippi we won’t stop fighting for.

"The 95 undersigned writers from Mississippi stand opposed to any violation of civil rights, including discrimination against LGBTQ citizens, and call for the repeal of the recently enacted House Bill 1523."

ALA's 'Most Challenged Books List'

The American Library Association released its annual Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books, which is included in the ALA's State of America's Libraries Report 2016.

A Harris poll last July on attitudes about book banning and school libraries revealed that out of the 2,244 U.S. adults who participated, the percentage (28%) who felt certain titles should be banned increased by more than half since the previous survey (18%) conducted in 2011.

Book challenges recorded by ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom show that attempts to remove materials with diverse content are higher than ever before. The most frequently challenged books last year were:

  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  6. The Holy Bible
  7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  9. Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter
  10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Obituary Notes: Glenn Ellis; Adrian Greenwood

Glenn Ellis, longtime sales rep and executive at Penguin Random House, died on Monday. He was 70.

He began his career at Random House in the 1970s as a field rep, then rose through the ranks, and was mostly v-p, director of adult field sales, from 2008 until his retirement in 2014.

Jaci Updike, president of sales at PRH, called Ellis "a vital member of the sales team" and said that under his leadership, "field sales transformed itself, adapting and thriving in a time of enormous change. With Glenn's steady hand, and his unwavering focus on the books and the customers, a culture of partnership and entrepreneurial spirit flourished, one that encouraged his team to explore new ways of doing business, while never losing touch with the core values and traditions that created Random House and Penguin Random House."

Updike noted, too, that Ellis was "a dedicated reader of history and biography, with a particular interest in extraordinary lives and leaders.  He believed that being a salesperson always meant learning, observing, 'the books we sell have been a program of personal education.' Post-Penguin Random House, Glenn continued to take a strong interest in his colleagues, and in book publishing, and signed his e-mails with quotes of encouragement, most recently one from Colin Powell: 'Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.'

"Our Penguin Random House family will miss Glenn, deeply. I will miss, most of all, Glenn's wry sense of humor, and steadfast friendship.  Glenn was a great and true gentleman, in the very fullest sense of the word."

A memorial service is being held at 1 p.m. this Friday, April 15, at the Fred H. McGrath & Son Funeral Home at 20 Cedar Street in Bronxville, N.Y., a short walk from the Metro North Harlem line train station. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Glenn's name to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center or Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx.


Author and biographer Adrian Greenwood, who was also a dealer in art, cars, historic artifacts and "reportedly collected early editions of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books," was murdered in his Oxford home last Thursday, the Bookseller reported. He was 42. Greenwood's book Victoria's Scottish Lion: The Life of Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde was published last year by History Press. Managing director Tim Davies said, "We were deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of our author, Adrian Greenwood. We would like to offer our sincerest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends." BBC News reported today that a man has been charged with the murder.


Image of the Day: PEN/Hemingway Award

Patrick Hemingway, son of Ernest Hemingway, bestowed the PEN/Hemingway Award for best first published work of fiction by an American author at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston last week. L. Ottessa Moshfegh (2nd from right) won for her book Eileen (Penguin Press); the honor came with a $25,000 prize. The two finalists are Margaret Malone (left) for People Like You (Atelier26 Books), and S.M. Hulse (far right) for Black River (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Bookshop Window Display of the Day: 'Noisy Diggers'

Posted on Facebook Monday by Macdonald Bookshop, Estes Park, Colo.:

"We have had some sewer work going on in front of the bookstore for the last week or so. Today we had some fun with the front window and entertained the construction workers!"

Stopping by the 'Western-Most Bookstore' in the U.S.

Talk Story Bookstore "is in the sleepy little town of Hanapepe, Kaua'i in Hawaii," Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder noted in chronicling a recent visit during which he "loved everything about it, including its owners, Cynthia and Ed Justus, who were really friendly and helpful. Cynthia tracked down every magic trick book in the store for me!

"The bookstore is in a former food and clothes store built in the 1930s called the Yoshiura Market. It's been converted to a clean, bright, and well-organized store with over 100,000 used and new books."

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Ann Dye has been promoted to marketing director, HMH Books for Young Readers.

Ayesha Mirza has been promoted to senior marketing manager for general interest.

Charles Roberts has been promoted to senior sales representative.

Carissa Ray has been promoted to sales representative.

Book Trailer of the Day: Little Flower Baking

Learn how to make Royal Biscuit Cake with this recipe from Little Flower Baking by Christine Moore, with photographs by Staci Valentine (Prospect Park Books).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Edward Humes on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Edward Humes, author of Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation (Harper, $27.99, 9780062372079).


Diane Rehm: Jeffrey J. Selingo, author of There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062388865).

Access Hollywood Live: Lele Pons and Melissa de la Cruz, authors of Surviving High School: A Novel (Gallery, $17.99, 9781501120534).

Wendy Williams: Jen Kirkman, author of I Know What I'm Doing--and Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781476770277).

Meredith Vieira repeat: Nicholas Sparks, author of See Me (Grand Central, $27, 9781455520619).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: David Duchovny, author of Bucky F*cking Dent: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26, 9780374110420).

TV: A Futile & Stupid Gesture; Still Star-Crossed

Seth Green will play Christopher Guest in Netflix's adaptation of Josh Karp's book A Futile & Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever, Deadline reported. Directed by David Wain (The Wet Hot American Summer) and written by Michael Colton and John Aboud, the project's cast includes Will Forte as Kenney, Joel McHale, Domnhall Gleeson, Thomas Lennon, Jackie Tohn, Matt Walsh, Rick Glassman and Jon Daly. Shooting is set to begin this month with release planned on Netflix in 2017.


Grant Bowler (Defiance) is set as a regular in the ABC drama pilot Still Star-Crossed, from Shondaland and ABC Studios, Deadline reported, noting that the project, written by Heather Mitchell based on the book by Melinda Taub, "picks up where William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet left off.... The story centers on Rosaline (Lashana Lynch), a gorgeous, intelligent and headstrong Capulet and Juliet's cousin who is ordered to marry Benvolio (Wade Briggs), a Montague. Bowler will play Lord Montague."

Books & Authors

Awards: International Dublin Literary; Wilbur Smith Adventure

Finalists have been announced for this year's €100,000 (about $113,920) International Dublin Literary Award, which "aims to promote excellence in world literature" by honoring a novel written in English or translated into English. The winner will be named June 9. The shortlisted titles are:

Outlaws by Javier Cercas (Spanish), translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
Academy Street by Mary Costello (Irish)
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers  (American)
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (German), translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Jamaican)
Diary of the Fall by Michel Laub (Brazilian), translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwandan), translated from the French by Melanie Mauthner
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (American)
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (American)
Family Life by Akhil Sharma (Indian-American)


A shortlist has been released for the inaugural £10,000 (about $14,310) Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, presented by the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation for novels that "best capture the spirit of adventure writing," the Bookseller reported. The winner will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in May. The shortlisted titles are:

Britannia by Simon Scarrow
The Revelation Code by Andy McDermott
Into the Fire by Manda Scott
Eagles at War by Ben Kane
The Tears of Dark Water by Corban Addison
Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs

Book Brahmin: Nicola Temple

photo: Shelby Temple

Nicola Temple is a Canadian science writer living in the U.K. Her writing has taken her from the precipices of volcanoes in Ethiopia to the banks of salmon streams in Canada's temperate rain forest. Her first book, Sorting the Beef from the Bull (Bloomsbury Sigma, April 26, 2016), co-authored with biogeochemistry professor Richard Evershed, collects scandalous stories of food fraud from around the globe, which the authors use to demonstrate the role of science in uncovering some of the century's biggest food scams.

On your nightstand now:

I can barely find my nightstand for books! I'm in the middle of Swallow This by Joanna Blythman. I think Joanna's incredibly brave in her investigative endeavors, and I feel like I'm right there with her when I read her work.

However, I can't read it right before bed as it gets me too riled up. So I'm also reading Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott, a winning combination of great writing, history and a complex female character. I also just absorbed Andy Weir's The Martian, devouring it over a couple of nights.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I would like to tell you that it was some classic piece of literature, but I was a true comic book fiend. I loved them, particularly superhero comics. I suppose that the first novel I remember reading that I adored was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It had fantasy, action and regular children who inevitably find their own inner superhero. I think I've always loved reading fantasy, despite trying to deny it for many decades as an adult. For me, it is a true escape and a stark contrast to my day job of turning very complicated science into something accessible.

Your top five authors:

Jane Austen (despite my just saying how much I love fantasy) is someone I read over and over simply because it gives me great joy to read her writing. Ken Follett and Diana Gabaldon for their ability to tell a fantastic story and weave in the perfect amount of detail and fact into that story. Stuart McLean because he can make you laugh (or cry) in so few pages. And finally John Irving, because he's brilliant and writes characters like nobody else. 

Book you've faked reading:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. My best friend in elementary school was reading them for the third time, and I thought I should put down my comic books and give them a go. I wasn't ready for them and ended up watching the 1978 animated film so we could talk about it. She probably knew (sorry, Sarah).

Book you're an evangelist for:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I've bought about a dozen copies, and I give it to friends who start moaning about being too old to run (in their 30s and 40s!). It's got some well-researched evidence about our own evolution as runners.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles for my newborn. A stark white cover with a forlorn emu lying across the bottom. It was probably reflective of my own state of mind at the time as a new mom who had just moved to Australia away from all my family.

Book you hid from your parents:

I can't remember ever hiding a book from my parents--they supported me reading anything.

Book that changed your life:

It's hard to choose just one. However, I suppose I would have to say The Great Bear Rainforest: Canada's Forgotten Coast by Ian and Karen McAllister. I read it. I fell in love with the place, and I ended up being a conservation biologist with Raincoast Conservation for a number of years, which was a life-changing experience.

Favorite line from a book:

"By it and with it and on it and in it." --Rat's response when Mole asks whether he really lives by the river in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. It speaks to me about our connection (or lack of) with our local community--being truly part of something rather than just using it as a landmark to describe a location.

Five books you'll never part with:

I've carried boxes of books with me from Canada to Australia to the U.K., so there's lots I haven't parted with. However, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller will always be in my collection because I read them every few years, and I'm determined to one day be able to read the latter and not bawl my eyes out. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, because it's my go-to recipe book. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, because I'm secretly hoping James Fraser will one day walk out of those pages.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien because although it's a children's book, I think I would have appreciated its greater depth if I read it for the first time as an adult.

Book Review

YA Review: The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Amulet/Abrams, $17.95 hardcover, 384p., ages 13-up, 9781419718953, April 19, 2016)

"A girl cannot be brave, or clever, or skilled as a boy can. If she is not good, she is nothing," an angry Reverend Erasmus Sunderly admonished his usually obedient 14-year-old-daughter, Faith. His words are harsh, but in Victorian England, not without societal support. He can't have been more wrong about his brave, clever and skilled daughter, however, for "All knowledge--any knowledge--called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen."

The elder Sunderly--who presents himself as both a man of God and science in the time of Darwin--is forced to leave the family home in Kent in shame when his most recent fossil research is revealed to be falsified. With his wife and two children in tow, he attempts to start afresh on the island of Vane, only to be exposed again and further reviled. Not long after, when his lifeless body is discovered, Faith--who loves and admires her father in spite of his oppressive opinions--resolves to investigate his suspicious death. She finds clues in her father's papers that lead her to the fantastical Lie Tree from southern China, which "would only flower or bear fruit if it was fed lies." Ingesting that precious fruit would grant the liar valuable secret knowledge. With her father gone, Faith seeks to find just how much he was willing to risk to feed the Lie Tree.

In this thrillingly subversive read, internationally bestselling author Frances Hardinge (Fly by Night; The Lost Conspiracy; Cuckoo Song) explores not only the unpredictable, runaway nature of lies, but age-old, hotly contested themes. She pits religion and creationism against science and evolution. And while her male characters often make pronouncements akin to insults--"... too much intellect would spoil and flatten [the female mind], like a rock in a soufflé,"--Hardinge slyly empowers her women in both their good and evil intentions as they repeatedly prove society's artificial limitations are meant to be challenged, manipulated and ultimately transcended.

The Lie Tree won the 2015 Costa Book of the Year, only the second children's title to garner one of the U.K.'s most prestigious literary honors. Hardinge blends history, mystery and fantasy to create a fiercely emotional, lusciously descriptive morality tale, murderous thriller and dysfunctional family epic. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: In Victorian England, 14-year-old Faith discovers the Lie Tree and uncovers the truth behind her father's demise.

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