Into the Tall, Tall Grass

Loriel Ryon. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-53-444967-1
Set in a small New Mexico town, Ryon’s debut explores the innate tensions of close relationships, the mysteries of family history, and the intricate processes of grief. Two weeks ago, 12-year-old scientist Yolanda Rodríguez-O’Connell’s grandmother, Wela, fell into a mysterious slumber. Yo’s beloved grandfather, Welo, died of cancer less than a year earlier, her widowed father is on another tour in Afghanistan, and her best friend, Ghita Patel, has chosen Yo’s fraternal twin, Sonja, over her—just like everyone else. Worse, Yo hasn’t inherited the maternal magical gift, which, though it subjects the family to suspicion, Yo can’t help but want. Wela is much like the pecan tree at the top of the hill, the last of the Rodríguez’s ancestral orchard to survive the drought; she wakes up long enough to ask Yolanda to take her there, where “everything will be set right.” Facing the imminent threat of removal by social worker, Yo agrees, bundling the dying Wela into the suddenly tall grass with Sonja, Ghita, and Ghita’s kind brother Hasik in tow. Though the cast and subplots feel a bit bloated, Yolanda’s struggles are complex, and the narrative of family legacies and intergenerational trauma is ultimately compelling—uplifting without being schmaltzy. Ages 10–up. Agent: Kristy Hunter, Knight Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 05/13/2020
Release date: 04/07/2020
Genre: Children's
Book - 978-1-5344-4969-5
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