Candlewick. Oct. 2023. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536231113.
Gr 7-10–Gather is a stray dog who may have a little Airedale in him; the running joke in Cadow’s debut is that everyone encountering Gather has a new guess about his mixed breed. Ian, or Dorian Gray Henry, is a white, rural Vermont teenager who has a level of self-awareness that draws readers in from the start. “She’s tired, but she’s not high,” is what Ian notices right off about his mother, just home from the hospital. He sees through Aunt Terry’s story, that his mom has finally “had some work done on that bad back of hers.” Although Ian’s mother attempts to stay clean, the struggle is vicious, and the narrative works to keep readers off-balance and keening for information, just as anyone who has ever lived with an addict has to. There are no straight stories with that disease, but the one here is full of sensory images and descriptive notes about this corner of rural New England—the “little copse of junipers” and “the cold November rain”—that anchor readers as they untangle exactly what a large bounding dog has to do with a frail, opioid-scarred mother. The novel covers food insecurity, poverty, and making do with little, but also grudging love of scattershot family, and Ian’s wry but upbeat fix-it attitude rolls with really hard punches. He is wise beyond his years, but he has had to be; his slow-motion long-way-around conversational style demands patience of readers, especially in the early chapters. Book talk it and tell teenagers to hang on. It’s a great ride.
VERDICT The ground constantly shifts in this extraordinary keyhole view of addiction and its ongoing aftermath; Cadow takes his time, but delivers a realistic and compelling novel.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing