Monday, December 2, 2013

MMGM: What I Came To Tell You by Tommy Hays

Published: September 24, 2013
ISBN: 1606844334
Genre: Middle grade, contemporary
Publisher: Egmont, USA
Themes: friendship, family, place, home, loss
Add it on: Goodreads, / Amazon / Barnes And Noble/ *Indie Bound*

About the Book: Since his mother died earlier this year, Grover Johnston (named after a character in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel) has watched his family fall to pieces as his father throws himself into his work rather than dealing with the pain. Left to care for his younger sister, Sudie, Grover finds solace in creating intricate weavings out of the natural materials found in the bamboo forest behind his North Carolina home, a pursuit that his father sees only as a waste of time.

But as tensions mount between father and son, two unlikely forces conspire to lead the Johnstons on a new path -- a presence that seems to come to Grover in his darkest moments and new tenants in the rental house across the street who have come from deep in the Carolina hills and plopped themselves right into Grover's life. The families seem so different but become increasingly intertwined, bound together in unexpected ways. Until one devastating disaster threatens to tear them apart.

Tender, touching, and utterly compelling, What I Came to Tell You, the first middle-grade novel from critically acclaimed Asheville author Tommy Hays, is a story of grief, love, and hard-won redemption.

First Line: Before their mother became Buddhist, she would take Grover and his sister to the First Presbyterian Church downtown.

What Others Are Saying: "Though the book spans just a few months, it's packed with incident and complex connections between a range of characters. Hays is especially strong at depicting the network of people, old and young, who help Grover and his family move through their grief and, along the way, save his beloved forest." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"Hays’ story is filled with touching honesty and youthful wisdom, all of which help undergird Grover’s own discovery of the healing power of family, love, and art." Booklist Review

Bloggers Weigh In:

What I Thought: "What I Came To Tell You," is the kind of book that starts out quiet, builds slowly, ends too soon and leaves an emotional punch that stays with you long afterward. This would be an excellent book to read-aloud, because it may begin too slowly for some middle grade readers. These types of books are few and far between and often lost in the action-packed fantasy and non-stop humor books that fill our middle grade shelves. The characters alone are worth the trip to Asheville, North Carolina, where the book is set. As an educator, I see several wonderful tie-ins for integrated curriculum: art-weaving, math-grids, literature-Wolfe, science-nature and conservation. I still have a great desire to create my own weaving of twigs, grasses and leaves. I highly recommend this book because of it's themes and opportunities for dialogue. 

Photo by Michael Mauney
About The Author: Tommy Hays

Who: Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts program at UNC Asheville. He teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Murray State University.

His adult novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award in 2006, and has been chosen for numerous community reads, including the One City, One Book program in Greensboro and the Amazing Read in Greenville, SC. The novel was read on National Public Radio’s “Radio Reader” and South Carolina ETVRadio’s “Southern Read”. His other adult novels are Sam’s Crossing, which has been recently re-released, and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Asheville with his wife, Connie, and their two children, Max and Ruth. —Authors Website

Be sure to stop by the other MMGM book reviewers. You can find them in my sidebar...

And last, but not least, I have a giveaway going on over at Goodreads!


1 comment:

  1. This sounds like the kind of book I would love. Thanks for telling me about it. I will definitely be checking it out.


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