No Book but the World

(2014) At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, shared a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations and each other’s presence. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness or vague impairment, but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of evaluation or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.

Decades later, then, when Ava learns that her brother is being held in a county jail for a shocking crime, she is frantic to piece together what actually happened. A boy is dead. But could Fred really have done what he is accused of? As she is drawn deeper into the details of the crime, Ava becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to reach her brother and explain him—and his innocence—to the world.

Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous story that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations. 

 

"★★★★" – People Magazine

 
[A] piercing novel.

- The New Yorker

Gripping…This is Cohen's territory. Author of the acclaimed "The Grief of Others," she excels at untangling emotional knots, especially those found in families. Her characters are almost always full-bodied, palpable. If you saw them on the street, you would recognize them.

- San Francisco Chronicle

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...Leah Hager Cohen, in her signature insightful prose, pushes readers to consider just how far they'd go for family.

- Harpers Bazaar

Cohen demonstrates a masterful talent, creating richly drawn characters and settings and supplying a satisfyingly shocking yet believable denouement.

- People Magazine