cover image Across the Grain

Across the Grain

Jean Ferris. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (215pp) ISBN 978-0-374-30030-2

Having been placed under the guardianship of unpredictable Paige, 17-year-old Will Griffin has no choice but to go along with his older sister's crazy whims. When Paige decides that she and her brother should rent their house by the ocean and move to a remote desert town, Will is dismayed at the prospect of changing schools and starting a job as a short-order cook at the Snakebite Cafe. Yet after growing accustomed to his new environment, Will's grim outlook begins to change as he forms friendships with two troubled individuals--a whittler and an amateur filmmaker. By emphasizing the expanse, silence and subtle beauty of the desert landscape, Ferris ( Invincible Summer ; Looking for Home ) creates an effective backdrop for the confidential chats and internal reckonings which abound throughout her novel. Although the presentation of male/female roles is somewhat stereotyped, characters' conflicts are convincingly and movingly expressed. Without providing pat resolutions to problems, this book offers some thought-provoking ideas about commitment, dependence and self-discovery. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)