Last December, I was playing around with a flap copy idea, and I impulsively tossed a draft up on the blog to gauge reader reaction. Said reaction was resoundingly negative, so I tucked that idea away for the time being, but I thought you all might be interested in seeing the front flap copy that the author and I did decide to use. To wit:
I needed to save Daniel. That’s why I made the choices I did. I didn’t need the track scholarships I’d turned down or the futures they promised. I didn’t need for my mother and me to have some grand reconciliation. I didn’t even need Jeff Cedars to fall in love with me a second time. All I needed was for my kid brother to have a normal life, and I believed with all my heart that I knew the way to give it to him.

The only problem, as I came to find out, was that just believing something doesn’t make it true.

Daniel Grant is six years old. He builds Lego spaceships and sleeps with a nightlight. He loves turtle shells, comic books, and his big sister, Andi.

And he’s known as the “Miracle Boy” of Paradise, Pennsylvania. Not just because he survived a freak accident when he was a baby: No, Daniel is rumored to have the power to cure the sick, to call home lost souls, even to bring back the dead.

Andi Grant doesn’t know what to believe. Her brother may be a little different, but he surely isn’t a miracle worker. Yet more and more people come to Paradise to see him—reporters seeking a story, “Pilgrims” seeking hope. And when one of the seekers becomes a dangerous stalker, Andi knows one thing for sure: The madness around Daniel has to stop.

As her plan comes together, the stalker draws closer, and the clock ticks toward Daniel’s star appearance at Paradise Days, Andi finds herself wrestling with her own beliefs in God and her brother, and wondering if what she really needs is . . . a miracle.
The book is The Miracle Stealer, the second YA novel by the excellent Neil Connelly, whose debut, St. Michael's Scales, we published back in 2001. And while I no longer mention the first chapter on the flap, I stand by my praise of it as one of the most intense and jaw-dropping scenes you're likely to read in a YA novel this year, just as the book as a whole is really intense, funny, thoughtful, and twisty -- a sort of spiritual suspense thriller firmly anchored in these very real characters, especially the prickly and awesome Andi. If you liked Marcelo in the Real World, put this one on your list.

Jacket art by Chris Stengel. Out in October.