No Book but the World (Paperback)

A Novel

By Leah Hager Cohen

Riverhead Books, 9781594633423, 352pp.

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

List Price: 16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

A lush, gripping, psychologically complex novel that asks: How much do siblings owe one another?

At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, share a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations, a celebration of curiosity and the natural environment, and each other’s presence. Their parents, progressive educators, believe passionately that children develop best without formal instruction or societal constraint. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness—the word “autism” is whispered—but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of clinical evaluation, diagnosis, or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.

Decades later, Fred is arrested for a shocking crime, and Ava is frantic to piece together the story of what actually happened. A boy is dead. Fred is held in a county jail. But could he really have done what he’s accused of? By now their parents are long gone, and the siblings have fallen out of touch, which causes Ava considerable guilt. Who is left to reach Fred? To explain him and his innocence to the world? Convinced that she alone can ensure he is regarded with sympathy, Ava tells their enthralling story.

A writer of enormous craft, Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence and storytelling to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous novel that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.


About the Author

Leah Hager Cohen is the author of four novels, most recently The Grief of Others, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize, selected as a New York Times Notable Book, and named one of the best books of the year by The San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, and Globe and Mail. She is also the author of five nonfiction titles, including Train Go Sorry and I Don’t Know. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review.


Praise For No Book but the World: A Novel

“[A] perceptive, empathetic, and often emotionally gripping new novel…[Cohen] is capable of writing prose that both convinces and sings.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Cohen demonstrates a masterful talent.” —People (4 stars)

"Piercing."—The New Yorker

“Cohen writes beautifully. Each word seems carefully chosen to paint this unsettling picture of a family with which many readers will identify.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Gripping.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Cohen's treatment of complex family dynamics and societal expectations is nuanced and sensitive, lending richness to a compelling, haunting plot.” The Cleveland Plain-Dealer