By Dandi Daley MacKall
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 283 pages
Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, except instead of the 60s it is set in the 70s, and instead of racism it is battling spousal abuse. Tree’s (short for Teresa) father is their small town’s resident doctor. She follows him as he runs down to the neighbor’s house in his bathrobe and slippers when a gunshot is heard, but Tree catches glimpses and is not able to figure out what really happened. Wanting to get on staff at her school’s paper, she decides to break the story of what really happened at the Kinney’s home that fateful night. She sets out to interview everyone she can to get the scoop.
Author Dandi Daley Mackall cleverly inserts famous quotes on writing and inspiration, adding to a young reader’s stimulation for writing. Clinging to the malaise and angst of teen years, the story doesn’t come easily, and she has to battle the ugliness of competition, family secrets and the need respect others’ privacy. Tree develops relationships that she never thought she would, and in the surprising and satisfying end, she is a better person for it. Delightfully and suitably written for young adult readers, this is a story that will stick with you for a long while after the cover is closed.
Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson