Sugaring Off (Hardcover)
*2023 ITW Thriller Award Finalist*
A dazzling and evocative novel about love and loss—with a dash of thrilling mystery—for fans of Mindy McGinnis and Courtney Summers.
Owl has always been her freest self in the mountains, tracking, hiking, and exploring the steep forested acres of her aunt and uncle’s maple sugar farm. They never speak of the childhood tragedy that left her partially deaf and sent her father to jail. All Owl wants is to stay safe at the farm, her favorite place in the world, her refuge from those who would treat her differently.
Owl’s sheltered existence is blown wide open by Cody—the magnetic, dangerous young man hired to help with the season’s sugaring off. Cody seems to see the real her, to look past her hearing loss in a way no one else does. Together, they find comfort in their similarities and exhilaration in their differences, and risk a romance their families are desperate to stop.
But then Owl hears her father will be released from prison, and a seemingly motiveless murder shakes the foundations of her small town. When the crime draws all eyes to Cody, Owl realized he is in far more serious trouble than anyone knows—and it’s followed him to her mountain.
About the Author
Gillian French’s debut, Grit, was an Indie Next pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection, an Edgar Award finalist, and a South Carolina Young Adult Book Award finalist. It received both a 2018 Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association and a 2018 Maine Literary Award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, as well as starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. Her other novels include The Door to January (Bram Stoker Award finalist), The Lies They Tell (2019 International Thriller Award finalist, an Amazon Bestselling New Release in both print and audio editions, 2019 Maine Literary Award Winner, and 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection), and The Missing Season (2019 Junior Library Guild Selection and a starred review from Booklist). She lives in Maine with her husband and three young boys.
"As in French’s other books, she treats her working-class characters with compassion but not preciousness, with a third-person narration that shows the complications of small-town life without exploiting it for drama.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"Paced with the smoothness of flowing maple sugar, this book is to be savored."—SLJ
"As ever, French weaves her storylines deftly…By the time a thriller plot kicks in, readers will be thoroughly embedded."—Kirkus Reviews
"At turns lyrical and stark, Sugaring Off is a foray into the wilderness of New Hampshire’s mountains, a sensitive portrait of coming of age in rural America, and a spine-tingling thriller. Gillian French, like Delia Owens and Kristin Hannah, weaves her characters and the natural world they inhabit together masterfully."—Cameron Kelly Rosenblum, author of The Stepping Off Place, a Kirkus Best Book of 2020
"A work of great beauty. Part mystery, part a story of love and loss, it’s all heart."—Betty Culley, award-winning author of Three Things I Know Are True