No Book but the World
BlurbA lush, gripping, psychologically complex novel that asks: How much do siblings owe one another?
At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, share a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations, a celebration of curiosity and the natural environment, and each other’s presence. Their parents, progressive educators, believe passionately that children develop best without formal instruction or societal constraint. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness—the word “autism” is whispered—but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of clinical evaluation, diagnosis, or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.
Decades later, Fred is arrested for a shocking crime, and Ava is frantic to piece together the story of what actually happened. A boy is dead. Fred is held in a county jail. But could he really have done what he’s accused of? By now their parents are long gone, and the siblings have fallen out of touch, which causes Ava considerable guilt. Who is left to reach Fred? To explain him and his innocence to the world? Convinced that she alone can ensure he is regarded with sympathy, Ava tells their enthralling story.
A writer of enormous craft, Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence and storytelling to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous novel that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.
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