cover image The Truth Against the World

The Truth Against the World

Sarah Jamila Stevenson. Flux, $9.99 trade paper (360p) ISBN 978-0-7387-4058-4

Stevenson's third book shares themes of family and inheritance with her first two. It also explores female erasure, from the plot crux of a girl who dies and disappears from the family tree to the small details of ongoing negation—"Our English side's all Huxleys," Gareth's mother says, as if generations of women never existed. Gareth, who has seen the child's ghost, can't quite settle for the story he's getting, and the Internet connects him with another seeker: Olwen Nia Evans, or Wyn, whose name happens to be the same as that of the dead girl. Stevenson (Underneath) evokes middle-class England and rural Wales with just enough realism (Gareth's vulgar friend Amit is a treat). Structurally, too much time is spent on apparitions and dreams after the mundane world has already given the plot plenty of impetus. Nor is agency restored to women: though Wyn and Gareth succeed in pushing matters to a crisis, the plot resolves only when the patriarch allows the truth to emerge. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June)