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.
"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. Ages 10up." - Publishers Weekly
"In some instances, the text veers toward the didactic, but the compelling characters and engaging prose put it squarely in the win column. Ages 10-14." - Kirkus
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Tommy Hays is the author of three novels for adults, including The Pleasure Was Mine. He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and a lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He lives in Asheville with his family.
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