TOM MCNEAL holds an MA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. He is the author, with his wife, Laura, of four young adult novels published by Knopf: Crooked, Crushed, The Decoding of Lana Morris, and Zipped. His adult titles include Goodbye, Nebraska and To Be Sung Underwater. He lives with his wife and two sons in Southern California. Visit their website at McNealBooks.com.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 8, 2013:
McNeal weaves in fantastical fairy-tale details into this inventive and deeply poignant narrative, creating a world that hovers between realism and enchantment. Starred Review, The Horn Book, July/August 2013:
"McNeal superbly and elegantly enfolds those stories' essence and depth into plot, setting, and characters; archetypal figures and situations glimmer through McNeal's small-town American cast like tantalizing clues in a novel that becomes ever darker even as it sparkles with the dignified, affectionate voice of its ghostly narrator."
Starred Review, The Bulletin, June 2013:
Enchanting, romantic, and tinged with terror, this modern story subtly weaves the haunting essentials of the fairy-tale tradition into a fascinating and beautifully written homage to its source material. Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2013:
Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment. Starred Review, Booklist, June 1, 2013:
Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel, and rife with allusions to Grimm Brothers' tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. Review, Wall Street Journal
Stunning. [A] beguiling, horrifying and gracefully written novel. Review, The Atlantic Wire
"McNeal weaves his modern tale in the fairy-tale tradition, and it will haunt and delight." Review, BookPage
"Far Far Away is an incredibly imaginative modern fairy tale told through the first-person narration of the ghost of Jacob Grimm . . . Suspenseful with a sinister villain, Far Far Away is equally heartwarming as it is scary." Review, Shelf-Awareness
"McNeal structures the novel like a fairy tale, and the overwhelming sense of danger surrounding the village like a deep forest will keep readers glued to the edges of their seats."
Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.