cover image The Secrets of Tree Taylor

The Secrets of Tree Taylor

Dandi Daley Mackall. Knopf, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-86897-9

In rural 1960s Missouri, 13-year-old aspiring journalist Tree is looking for a story to write to earn a spot on her school newspaper when a man is shot on her street. Her father, the town doctor, calls it an accident, but Tree saw Mrs. Kinney, the victim's wife, holding the shotgun and has a feeling that "there was a big story in this shooting." Tree begins gathering information about the Kinneys' miserable lives, but when she begins to befriend the obviously abused Mrs. Kinney, she wonders, "How can I tell which secrets to leave alone and which not to?" Mackall (The Silence of Murder) provides a rich sense of time and place: Tree's father gets in a heated argument with a family friend over the impending Vietnam War, and Tree's new friend Penny is passionately against segregation. Tree's unlikely friendship with Mrs. Kinney comes across as contrived, as do the mysterious quotes that Tree keeps finding, but conversations with her wise father and her friend Jack help create a thoughtful coming-of-age story about a girl learning to see beyond black and white. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (May)