Here and now I am in this place far away from my home. Here, with the cold wind blowing down from the north and the stars piercing through the cloudless sky. Here I am.
But my story does not start here.
My story starts months ago and hundreds of miles south of where I am now. My story starts in the place I used to call home. My story starts with violence and heartbreak.
After her brother is involved in a grisly murder-suicide, fifteen-year-old Laney is sent to live with her grandmother in the Adirondack Mountains. Laney gradually warms to her new home—especially her relationship with a mysterious neighbor—but before she can appreciate her new life, she must uncover the secrets that have haunted her family for decades.
“In The Book of Laney, an unsettling and redemptive novel, Myfanwy Collins fuses heartbreak and empathy to explore uncomfortable truths about teenagers, violence, and survival. An unforgettable book.” —Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist
“Collins is also the author of an adult novel, Echolocation, and a flash fiction collection,I Am Holding Your Hand. The Book of Laney, her first young adult novel, is a lyrical, original story about the legacy of violence, the importance of empathy, and the possibility of redemption. It’s a short novel, but one that leaves a deep impression, with characters and places I know I’ll want to revisit. In brief, poetic touches, Collins paints a landscape of icy beauty and takes Laney from a scared, empty girl to a young woman ready to reclaim her identity and her life.” — Kathryn Kulpa, Cleaver Magazine
“Last night I finished my second read of Myfanwy Collins’ second novel, The Book of Laney. It is both a daring work and an extraordinary achievement… A beautifully written, compassionate, and important novel, Myfanwy Collins’ The Book of Laney is a must read. I can’t recommend it highly enough for both young adult and adult readers.” — Kathy Fish
“This is not so much a coming-of-age book as a story of survival. Laney learns to respect and depend on nature, just as she must respect and depend on herself. Collins uses a lot of symbolic imagery, whether cracking ice to represent a fragile psyche or a snake’s skin that likens to a suffocating layer. As hopeless and bleak as Laney’s life appears to be, Collins manages to infuse this book with a sense of hopefulness. Laney survived. She did so because she chose to retreat from her brother and mother, hiding by turning up the volume and tuning out the noise around her. As she becomes more aware of her history, she must choose to engage. Retreat is no longer the way of survival. Connection is. This is a lovely book, presented somberly and with respect for its characters. Myfanwy Collins does not write a happy tale, but she gives her characters hope.” — Vox Libris
“I’ve read books about school shooters before, but this is the first I’ve read about the family left behind. A beautifully sad story of surviving, moving on and choosing life. When Laney’s brother commits a stunning attack on her school and family she is left behind to wonder why he killed, and why she still lives. Sent to live with her hermit-like grandmother in a snow bound cabin, Laney is forced to listen to herself and the world around her. Best for High School.” — Rhode Reader, A Bookworm’s Diary
“Young adults face difficulties that feel insurmountable, difficulties they feel they won’t be able to overcome or survive. In The Book of Laney, they will meet a young woman who feels the same way, a young woman who journeys through darkness and allows love to illuminate her, light to nurture her, until eventually she’s able to push up into wholeness again.” Katrina Denza, Read This: The Book of Laney by Myfanwy Collins
“I have been thinking about The Book of Laney for a few weeks now. It is powerful in some very important ways and Laney is such a great character. I think a lot of teenagers will identify with her pain and the many ways in which she has been stuck living at the whims of others until it is almost too late. So this is most certainly a worthwhile and quite compelling read that I think has some significant things to say about family.” — Guys Lit Wire
INTERVIEWS and EXTRAS:
- Great Reads For Great Weather (August 2015): Alice Hoffman recommends The Book of Laney
- The Undercover Soundtrack, Myfanwy Collins
- If My Book: Myfanwy Collins for Monkeybicycle
- The Book of Laney: A Review, by Kathryn Kulpa for Cleaver Magazine
- Both a Part of the World and Outside of It: An Interview with Author Myfanwy Collins, Persephone Magazine
- The Inciting Incident: When Laney Was Born, Necessary Fiction
- Myfanwy Collins and Evan Roskos Talk Books, Violence, and Why They Write What They Write, B&N Teen Blog
- Author Myfanwy Collins on the writing life and her new young adult novel, About.com
- A Conversation with Myfanwy Collins, Burning River