January 2013 Indie Next List
“Eleven-year-old Annie's plans for a quiet summer are upended when an escaped convict from the nearby penitentiary bursts into the home she shares with her grandmother and younger brother and takes them hostage as law enforcement agents scour the area for him. Part thriller, part psychological drama, this gripping debut novel examines the effects of secrets and lies on fragile family dynamics, as Annie questions everything she's always taken for granted about her unconventional upbringing.”
— Terri Schmitz, The Children's Book Shop, Brookline, MA
When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. If you re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence, Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room as she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie and Rew spend their days under the birches and oaks of the Zebra Forest, telling stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same.
This deeply compelling, emotionally evocative, and grippingly suspenseful look at the complicated fallout from long-held family secrets is impossible to forget.