Arthur A. Levine Books published Neil Connelly's first novel, St. Michael's Scales, nine years ago last spring. It was the story of a boy who was convinced he was doomed, and Neil says that writing it made him think about the opposite problem -- the burdens of being blessed, particularly with an unusual talent or gift. Thus emerged the story of the wonderfully complicated Andi Grant, who herself isn't unusually blessed, but who guards her six-year-old brother Daniel with all the fierceness of a mother lion. Daniel may not be a miracle worker, exactly, but strange things certainly happen around him; and when strange people begin to threaten him as well, Andi launches a plan to create an "Anti-Miracle" and give her brother a normal life forever after. I've previously blogged about this book (or the flap copy for it, rather) here and here, and as I said then, this is a great, twisty sort of philosophical thriller novel, where the tension reaches near-physical levels of stress as you turn the pages. . . . Perfect for fans of Francisco X. Stork (who blurbed it), Donna Freitas (likewise), or Sara Zarr. It's received a starred review from Booklist and much enthusiasm from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, the latter of whom called it "provocative and suspenseful," and concluded, "Deftly avoiding stereotypes and caricatures, Connelly creates an alternately ominous and wholesome atmosphere in which the mysteries of friendship, hope, sacrifice, love, and prayer reveal a community's spiritual complexity."
Look for a Q&A with Neil coming later this week, and I may have to post the first chapter too, as it truly does contain one of the most astonishing scenes I've ever read.
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