cover image Gather


Kenneth M. Cadow. Candlewick, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5362-3111-3

Ever since 10th grader Ian Gray and his mother were abandoned by Ian’s father, things at home in rural Vermont have been difficult for the family. After Ian’s mother hurts her back at work, she loses her job and becomes dependent on prescription opioids to cope with the pain. When she’s hospitalized, Ian is forced to rely on his own skills to care for their home. He quits the basketball team to look for a job, makes repairs around the house, and struggles to ready their dilapidated car for inspection. Luckily, his knack for fixing things lands him an opportunity to make money working for kind neighbors. He even pseudo-adopts Gather, the enormous stray dog that has been wandering into his family’s yard, and befriends new student Sylvia. Upon his mother’s return, she finds employment at a local diner. Ian is sure that good things are on the horizon for them, until the government threatens to repossess their land for nonpayment of taxes. Ian’s genuine first-person narration—enriched by his penchant for pithy metaphors and similes—unveils a protagonist whose innate sense of justice and tentatively hopeful perspective buoy Cadow’s sober debut. Main characters read as white. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)