Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Elston, Ashley. The Lying Woods. Disney-Hyperion, 2018. 978-1-368-01478-6. 336 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

My Review: 


Hours before his father's embezzlement goes public, Owen's mother gets him from his elite New Orleans boarding school. Forced to leave all of their possessions including their house behind, Owen and his mom move in with her sister, and Owen must adjust to senior year back in Lake Cane. Living among the families whose life savings and retirements were invested in Louisiana Frac (the primary local employer) proves to be more difficult than he imagined. Of course, his father is long gone. Most are suspicious of their involvement or their knowledge of Owen's father's whereabouts, but Owen and his mother are left to deal with the repercussions and threatsTold in alternating chapters Owen's story unfolds over dual narratives from the past and the present. With mystery surrounding his entire life, Owen must look to the past to help guide his future. 

THOUGHTS: Subtle in its mystery, this book is difficult to describe without giving away key details. With dual narratives from different time periods, readers will work the entire novel to puzzle out the story of Owen's life. At times a page-turning mystery and others character driven, this work will have a wide appeal. A must-purchase for high school libraries. 

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