cover image The Ethan I Was Before

The Ethan I Was Before

Ali Standish. Harper, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-243338-1

Debut author Standish boldly tackles themes of death, guilt, and forgiveness in this tender coming-of-age story. Twelve-year-old Ethan Truitt blames himself for a tragic accident involving his best friend, Kacey. To help Ethan recover, his parents uproot the family from their Boston home and move to Georgia. In the town of Palm Knot, Ethan tries to adapt to living in his grumpy Grandpa Ike’s dilapidated house, fit in at school, and avoid his older brother, Roddie, who is angry about the family’s relocation. Ethan befriends a imaginative and daring girl named Coralee, and the two are soon having the kinds of adventures Ethan once shared with Kacey and thought he’d never have again. While building suspense by withholding what exactly happened between Ethan and Kacey until well into the story, Standish movingly conveys Ethan’s persistent grief and guilt, which Coralee and others helps him think about in new ways. Readers will be riveted as Ethan, his family, and other well-developed characters face the somber realities of life head on. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (Jan.)