Hours away from pushing the button on a self-publishing deal, lawyer-turned-novelist Philip Beard was won over by the combined efforts of a bookseller, a sales rep, a publisher, and an agent, and brought the book to Viking. With its extraordinary backstory already covered in Publishers Weeklys Hot Deals column, Dear Zoehas got built-in buzz thats just going to keep growing.Beards stunning debut is an epistolary novel written from fifteen-year-old Tess DeNunzio to her little sister Zoe. After Zoes accidental death on September 11, 2001a day so many others diedTesss family is numbed by their personal tragedy. Already acutely aware of her odd place in a home where her mother and stepfather now have children of their own, Tess begins her letter as a means of figuring out her own lifefrom her two-hour-a-day hair and makeup ritual to her complicity in Zoes death. Only after she moves in with her real father, a well-intentioned deadbeat, and stumbles into a halting romance with the sweet but aimless boy next door, does Tess begin to open her heart once more.Not since The Lovely Boneshas there been a study of grief, adolescence, and healing that rings as true as Dear Zoe. In Tess, a girl on the verge of womanhood, Beard has crafted a pitch-perfect narrator and a debut novel of rare power and grace that will remain with readers long after the book is put down.
"On the morning planes hit the World Trade Center towers, Tess DeNunzio's three-year-old sister, Zoe, ran into the street and was killed by a car. Fifteen-year-old Tess, who was supposed to be watching Zoe, was consumed by guilt. This novel is written in the form of a letter from Tess to Zoe, chronicling the year after Zoe's death. Tess lives with her mother, her stepfather, David, and her other half-sister, Emily; and after Zoe's death she feels more disconnected from them than ever. She decides to go live with her father, Nick, a good-hearted man who has big plans that never seem to pan out. Living with Nick allows Tess to, in a sense, start fresh; she begins a romance with Jimmy Freeze, the troubled but thoughtful boy next door, and gets a summer job at a theme park where no one knows what happened to her sister. But Tess isn't able to hide forever: a similar accident forces Tess to face her grief head on. Beard's debut will no doubt be compared to Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones (2002); like that novel, it is a piercing look at how a family recovers from a devastating loss. Beard captures the raw emotion of a 15-year-old girl with impressive dexterity, following Tess through the many stages of grief. Everything about this moving, powerful debut rings true. --Kristine Huntley Copyright 2005 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"A 15-year-old girl struggles to cope with private grief in an age of public catastrophe in this awkwardly conceived but sweet, sure-voiced debut. When her little sister, Zoe, dies after being struck by a car on September 11, 2001, savvy, self-aware Tess DeNunzio works through her grief by writing letters to Zoe. Tess's candid observations about her feelings of guilt (she witnessed the accident) and her mourning process give warmth and clarity to her descriptions of daily life in the aftermath. Not sure how to deal with her bereaved mother and uncommunicative stepfather, Tess moves across Pittsburgh to live with her real dad, an underemployed weight lifter with a good heart. Tess's wise-beyond-her-years sensibility can seem contrived ("That's one of the strangest parts of being a stepchild. You actually get to watch your parents fall in love"), and a morality lesson about the virtues of virginity feels tacked on. Most problematically, however, September 11 feels like a giant peg on which a small (but lovely) coat has been hung. Maybe that's the point, but much more moving are Tess's attempts to cope with the conventional aspects of the loss of her sister. (On sale Mar. 28) Forecast: Dear Zoe was about to be self-published when Viking snatched it up. Proper promotion could net the novel some cross-over YA sales. Six-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved