What happened in the woods that day? Pete Hautman’s riveting middle-grade novel touches on secrets and mysteries — and the power of connections with family and friends.
“Hatred combined with lies and secrets can break the world.” Grandpa Zach used to say that before he died, but Stuey never really knew what he meant. It was kind of like how he used to talk about quantum physics or how he used to say ghosts haunted their overgrown golf course. But then one day, after Stuey and his best friend, Elly Rose, spend countless afternoons in the deadfall in the middle of the woods, something totally unbelievable happens. As Stuey and Elly Rose struggle to come to grips with their lives after that reality-splitting moment, all the things Grandpa Zach used to say start to make a lot more sense. This is a book about memory and loss and the destructive nature of secrets, but also about the way friendship, truth, and perseverance have the ability to knit a torn-apart world back together.
Shy Stuey and just-short-of-bossy Elly Rose are likable, their friendship believable and moving. Infused with the magic of the unknown, the eerie wilderness entices them, and readers, inside. An intensely atmospheric ghost story and elegy for a vanished world: spellbinding. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
As evocative as a David Almond novel, and as infused with heartache and affirmation, Stuey’s story will set imaginations spinning with possibilities about other worlds, ancient sins, and the power of truth. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Explaining the implications of concurrent realities is not an easy task, but one Hautman handles skillfully. His fluid writing and lush descriptions of the natural world carry the story, even when questions of how and why remain. Readers will race to the end to learn how it all untangles. —Booklist
Hautman plays with time and reality, spitting the story into two narratives, Stuey’s and Elly’s. The story lines touchingly merge for a satisfying conclusion. The main characters are likable and thoughtfully developed, with intelligence and flashes of humor. —School Library Journal