cover image Pieces of Why

Pieces of Why

K.L. Going. Penguin/Dawson, $16.99 (218p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3474-6

When Tia was four years old, her father robbed a house and was sentenced to life in prison. It’s not until a baby dies in a neighborhood carjacking eight years later that Tia learns the whole truth: he killed a 12-year-old girl during the robbery. The baby’s murder stirs bad memories in Tia’s working-class New Orleans community, and she unjustly bears the brunt of this ill will. Tia’s reclusive mother avoids talking about the past, while her own shame and questions so overwhelm her that she loses the ability to do her favorite thing: sing. Her voice teacher, Ms. Marion, wisely tells her, “Sometimes if you’re having trouble creating something beautiful, you’ve got to find the joy in your life.” Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, Tia is a sympathetic protagonist searching for that joy, and the answers she needs to rediscover her voice come from some unexpected sources. Going (Fat Kid Rules the World) skillfully tackles topics of race, class, and violence in a moving testament to family and friendship, love and loss, and the power of forgiveness. Ages 10–up. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)