cover image Tell Me Everything

Tell Me Everything

Carolyn Coman. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (156pp) ISBN 978-0-374-37390-0

Coman's first novel has a plot so strong that it virtually tells itself, and prose so articulate that a multitude of emotions almost overwhelms the reader. In the opening scene, 12-year-old Roz responds to an assignment to give an oral report on a hero or heroine by announcing that ``Ellie Jacoby went up in a burst of flames . . . on board the Challenger .'' Her classmates titter but her teacher quiets them--Ellie Jacoby, Roz's mother, died the previous year, rescuing a boy buried in an avalanche. Obsessed with the rescued boy, Roz phones him repeatedly and finally runs away from her guardian uncle in order to see him. Coman's narrative skills are made bold by the unimpeachable truths of grief, and she distills the process of accepting death into an act of discovery. Most powerful of all is Roz's remembered relationship with her mother, the victim of a violent crime (rape by Roz's unknown father) whose refuge in spirituality earned her the scorn of her community. Coman portrays both Roz and Ellie with fresh and real poeticism, lending dignity and gravity to this spellbinding story. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)