Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Release Spotlight: One Foot Wrong

One Foot Wrong by Sofie Laguna

After penning several children’s and YA stories, One Foot Wrong is Sofie Laguna’s first adult novel. And yet, like a curious playmate out of juvenile literature, Laguna’s crisp language, full of bright and shiny imagery, beckons the reader inward and holds our hand through the most terrifying moments.

The only child of reclusive parents, Hester Wakefield explores the boundaries of her nightmarish childhood. Isolated, she constructs a coded speech gleaned from the pages of her sole book, the Abridged Picture Bible, her own incredibly vivid imagination, and the disparaging remarks she hears everyday. For instance, the pounding of her heart is “Jesus beating the drum” and laughter, which bubbles out of her to the dismay of her repressed mother, is “the devil’s language.” Hester is at once a tragic figure—relentlessly quashed by her fearful, stringently religious, and abusive parents—and a marvelously resilient individual—building herself a tightly woven and unceasingly profound world from the fractures.

Hester stitches her world together with secrets. It’s common for the development of private knowledge to mark a departure from childhood, but Hester’s own leave-taking is complicated by its sinister tinge even as she quickly determines the power of secrets. She observes that a “secret can belong to one person or it can belong to two people. Mary and me had the creek and the frog. Boot and me had night visits, pencil and paper, and the drawings in the kitchen bin. I had my own one-person secrets: hidden paintings and my friends at One Cott Road.” One by one, these secrets are unearthed (if, at times, only to the reader) in turbulent episodes that propel Hester from agonizing rupture to self-revelation.

The secrets become increasingly fantastic and some of the developments seem to stretch the fabric of Laguna’s otherwise cohesive tale, as if the story has a few secrets of its own. Laguna’s constant use of a resplendent array of motifs builds the literary force of the story, while also communicating the circular, suffocating nature of Hester’s world. As the young protagonist searches for a way out—through art and imagination, visions and violence—One Foot Wrong faithfully follows these threads of theme to their every end, terrible or glorious.

Review by Hannah Kingrey, Indigo Editing & Publications

To be released August 18, 2009.

One Foot Wrong
Publisher: Other Press LLC
ISBN: 978-1-59051-316-3
Trade Paperback: $12.95

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