cover image Fig


Sarah Elizabeth Schantz. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2358-8

In a novel rich with metaphors, newcomer Schantz explores the tender, heartwrenching relationship between a schizophrenic mother and her highly gifted daughter. The book, which spans 15 years, begins when Fiona (aka Fig), then age six, first witnesses her mother’s delusional behavior. During her mother’s subsequent decline and long stays in hospitals and institutions, Fig practices various rituals and self-destructive acts, believing her sacrifices will restore her mother’s sanity. Meanwhile Fig’s patient, hardworking father tries to maintain a sense of normalcy but is plagued by worries. He relies heavily on his mother, who wants to turn Fig into a proper young lady, and his brother, who understands Fig in ways no one else can, to help with Fig’s upbringing while he farms the land. The beautiful and remote rural setting underscores Fig’s isolation among classmates who view her family as strange and her joy during fleeting moments when her mother appears to be cured. Readers will get a strong sense of the powerful bond of love between parents and child as Fig’s family strives to navigate the quagmire of mental illness. Ages 14–up. Agent: Heather Schroder, Compass Talent. (Apr.)