cover image The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn

The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn

Sally J. Pla. Quill Tree, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-326879-1

Autistic 13-year-old Maudie McGinn loves spending summers with her father in his California cabin. But this year, she carries a terrible secret, one that her mother insists Maudie not tell him. But her existing trauma deepens when a wildfire forces Maudie and her father to evacuate and they retreat to the Southern California beach town where Dad grew up. Even amid the challenging situation and her sensory overload, however, she’s happy to be with him instead of her mother and stepfather back in Houston. Maudie soon takes up surfing under the mentorship of an effusive elder and enters an end-of-summer Surf Bash offering a beginner’s prize of cash and a raffle ticket entry to win an RV, surprise gifts that Maudie wants for her father. But fearful feelings surrounding her imminent return to Texas threaten her newfound peace. Pla (The Someday Birds) gradually reveals the physical and verbal abuse Maudie endures in Texas in a way that is appropriately harrowing but never gratuitous. Interstitial poems provide further emotional depth to Maudie’s intimate first-person narrative, fashioning a vulnerable portrait of one girl seeking to empower and redefine herself outside of her personal traumas. Maudie is white and has Venezuelan ancestry. Ages 10–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (July)