cover image Sold on a Monday

Sold on a Monday

Kristina McMorris. Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4926-6399-7

The sale of two young children leads to devastating consequences in this historical tearjerker from McMorris (The Christmas Collector). In 1931, struggling society writer Ellis Reed spots two children on the porch of a farmhouse in Laurel Township, Penn., with a sign that says “2 Children for Sale.” Ellis snaps their picture before developing it in his newspaper’s darkroom, where it’s found by Lillian Palmer, an editor’s secretary. Lily shows the photograph to her boss, who then orders Ellis to write a story to accompany the photograph. The photograph and negative, though, are inadvertently destroyed before the story runs, forcing Ellis to shoot a staged photograph with different children. Ellis’s story creates a sensation that launches his career, but when the children in the staged photograph are actually sold by their mother after she receives an incorrect terminal diagnosis, Ellis and Lily feel responsible and set out to reunite the family. Set against the hardscrabble backdrop of the Great Depression, McMorris’s altruistic and sometimes damaged characters have moral compasses that realistically waver. A tender love story enriches a complex plot, giving readers a story with grit, substance, and rich historical detail. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, the Book Group. (Aug.)