A teen copes with her grandmother's coma by becoming obsessed with a mystery bird that she cannot identify in Adrienne Kisner's sharp and poignant YA novel, The Confusion of Laurel Graham.
Seventeen-year-old Laurel Graham has a singular, all-consuming ambition in this life: become the most renowned nature photographer and birder in the world. The first step to birding domination is to win the junior nature photographer contest run by prominent Fauna magazine. Winning runs in her blood—her beloved activist and nature-loving grandmother placed when she was a girl.
One day Gran drags Laurel out on a birding expedition where the pair hear a mysterious call that even Gran can’t identify. The pair vow to find out what it is together, but soon after, Gran is involved in a horrible car accident.
Now that Gran is in a coma, so much of Laurel's world is rocked. Her gran's house is being sold, developers are coming in to destroy the nature sanctuary she treasures, and she still can't seem to identify the mystery bird.
Laurel’s confusion isn’t just a group of warblers—it’s about what means the most to her, and what she’s willing to do to fight to save it. Maybe--just maybe-if she can find the mystery bird, it will save her gran, the conservatory land, and herself.
About the Author
Adrienne Kisner has master's and doctorate degrees in theology from Boston University and was inspired by her work with high school and college students to write Dear Rachel Maddow. She is also a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in writing for children and young adults. Dear Rachel Maddow is her debut.
"There is a sweet and potent earnestness here that casts out any sort of hipper-than-thou irony and fully embraces Laurel’s passion, highlighting her ambition and hard work, both as a photographer and birder. Her self-recrimination over not stopping her grandmother from going for a walk on that fateful day is believable, though misguided, and the threat of two major losses—her grandmother and the preserve—is deftly conveyed as her efforts to find the elusive bird and stop the development become more frantic. The ending is bittersweet, but Laurel’s tough, and it seems likely she’ll weather the winds of change just fine until bluer skies arrive." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books