The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Published by Philomel
Published on April 26th, 2016
With parents too busy to pay her attention, an older brother and sister who would rather spend their time with friends, and peers who oscillate between picking on her and simply ignoring her, it’s no wonder that Fain spends most of her time in a world of her own making. During the day, Fain takes solace in crafting her own fantastical adventures in writing, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life as Fain lives and breathes alongside a legion of imaginary creatures. Whether floating through space or under the sea, climbing mountains or traipsing through forests, Fain becomes queen beyond – and in spite of – the walls of her bedroom.
In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day reality. . . yet when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk the pain that comes with opening herself up to the fragile connections that exist only in the real world? Told in breathless and visual verse, THE LONELY ONES takes readers through the intricate inner workings of a girl who struggles to navigate isolation and finds friendship where she least expects it.
Praise for The Lonely Ones:
“Spare and poignant, every word of this haunting and elegant novel in verse feels painstakingly selected….Fain’s story is simply a brilliantly crafted coming-of-age novel that will appeal to the hearts and minds of all readers who have ever felt alone.”–Kirkus Reviews *STARRED REVIEW*
“The lyrical free verse style moves the narrative swiftly along….Gorgeous writing distinguishes this short, but not shallow, read.”–School Library Journal
“This novel in free verse is exactly what a poetic novel should be…an immersive novel, like any good tale in which readers can take any individual poem and examine it in depth for word use, rhythm, and meaning.”–VOYA
In my opinion, The Lonely Ones is a #MustRead because of the endearing Fain, a plot that is equal parts lush imagination and harsh reality, and breathtaking storytelling. This is an incredible book written in beautifully crafted prose, and while the genre is Middle Grade, all readers who pick it up will be glad they did.
Early in the book, we meet Fain’s family – and in only 54 words, you get a crystal clear picture of a typical morning in her household:
The Fredericks are a family bound only by blood.
Dana smears on lip gloss. Tyler adjusts his jersey,
Peter shrieks for juice.
Dad holds the paper
in front of his face,
searching the want ads
for someone who will want him back.
Mom pours milk, so distracted,
she does not notice my dirty feet.
This is the world Fain lives in, and her invisibility at home (and at school) drives her imagination to construct several fantasy worlds in which she is in control. By day, she is a lonely, confused child, and by night, she is surrounded by the creatures that need her company and leadership. The beauty of this story is Fain eventually longs for time with friends and family based in reality, not the safe alternative she imagines each night. Her journey to and from this special coping device is a beautiful metaphor for all coming of age events: what we want and need will change as we mature. You will root for Fain to find comfort and peace every step of the way. It is a quick read, but the impact is instant and lasting. I already want to read it again.
against my window sill.
Then, a voice,
raspy, childlike, familiar.
It calls my name
and becomes a symphony.
“Fain, are you coming?”
“Come with us, Fain!”
“Open your eyes, Fain!”
I try to be firm,
I try to say no.
There’s a voice in my head
that whispers I’m getting too old
for these games and adventures.
The ground is so thick with mud
that someone could notice
But my little friends persist
again and again.
Their pleas batter
against my resolve,
until debris crashes down
and I am too weak to resist.
The unbearable truth is
no one will notice my tracks
because no one notices anything.
I take one of their scaly hands,
a feather tickles against my cheek.
Then I climb outside
and disappear into the night.
2 signed copies of The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton, open to US and Canada
Click Here to Enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Kelsey Sutton is the author of teen novels SOME QUIET PLACE and GARDENIA. She is also the author of two novels for middle grade readers, THE LONELY ONES and BENJAMIN. She lives in Minnesota, where she received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bemidji State University. She is currently working on a master’s degree from Hamline University. Her work has received an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IndieFab Award, and was selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013. When not writing, Kelsey can be found watching too much Netflix, ordering a mocha at the nearest coffee shop, or browsing a bookstore. You can like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KelseyJSutton.
Follow the rest of the tour!