Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Mostly Dead Things

This novel debuted this summer on the New York Times bestseller list, a first for the indie press. The prose of Mostly Dead Things is a bed of roses trapped under barbed wire, beauty beneath a hardened exterior. How appropriate for the narrator Jessa Morton, a taxidermist who has long held back her feelings from her dysfunctional family, even before her father shot himself in the shop that Jessa now runs. It's only when her mother begins making provocative sculptures out of the store's animals that Jessa is forced to open herself up and confront her past in all its heartbreak.

In her first novel, Kristin Arnett writes with keen perception and clarity throughout, not just of grief and old wounds, but of the working-class Florida landscape in which the Mortons live. This is an exquisitely painful and tender story, compassionate and understanding of its characters and their myriad flaws, even Brynn, the woman who Jessa and her brother, Milo, both loved--until she ran from them.

Mostly Dead Things is a book of body and soul. Arnett is a talented and original writer, and everybody paying attention to her work will be eagerly awaiting whatever else she has in store. --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer