A novel in verse about the self-inflicted shooting of a teenage boy and its consequences in a backwater Maine town. The realistic, unflinching, yet poetic and elegant narration by the victim's younger sister demonstrates that even the grimmest of tales cannot subvert the inherent promise of life.— Mike Hare
This is the first novel I’ve ever read that’s entirely written in verse - and it was absolutely devastating, but beautiful. The novel is tragic, impactful, full of hope. Highly recommended.— Angela Turon
“Topical, deeply honest, and important, this book has an edge that is painful and sharp but softened with the cadence of verse. The ripple effect of Jonah’s foolish actions pulses violently outward and crashes into friends, family, and the larger community. Three things I know are true: this book captures the subject matter seriously and accurately, it starts a necessary dialogue, and it might change some lives.”
— Nichole Cousins, Still North Books & Bar, Brooklyn, NY
Fans of Jandy Nelson and Marieke Nijkamp will love this deeply moving novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun accident.
Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay’s father’s gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv feels like she’s the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.
With Liv’s mom suing Clay’s family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she’s not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.
This powerful novel is a stunning exploration of tragedy, grief, compassion, and forgiveness.
Betty Culley lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns. She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She went into foster care at nine months old and was adopted three years later. As an adult, she was found by five siblings she never knew she had. Visit her online at www.bettyculley.com.
"Culley’s compelling free-verse poems accumulate into a poignant story of a family that was already struggling and then transformed into something unrecognizable. Liv’s narration is touching, honest, and perceptive. A story of love and resilience as much as loss and grief." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
"Piercingly realistic. A poignant, humanizing exploration of a sadly timely issue." — Kirkus Reviews
"An emotional journey that follows a life-altering tragedy. Culley weaves carefully chosen details into a slowly forming tapestry. A tale that is both harrowing in subject matter and elegant in execution." — ALA Booklist
"A heartbreaking story about a topic that is too prevalent in today’s society." — School Library Journal
"Eloquent narrative verse. Culley deftly captures the community’s nuanced responses and the heartbreak both families navigate as this devastating tragedy becomes a political battleground." — Publishers Weekly