A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Faber & Faber 3. Forest [Public Domain] via Flickr 4. Rear vision mirror [Public Domain] via Pxhere

Single mother of four children, Faye, becomes so frustrated with her squabbling children, she orders her daughter Ellen to get out of the car on their way home. The story is told from the point of view of Libby, Ellen’s sister, and it details the aftermath of this incident.

‘Out. Get out.’ My mom said it with her voice low, which let us know she meant it.

The dramatic beginning led me to believe that this was a straightforward crime thriller, and although the tension continues throughout the story, it’s more of a coming-of-age story. The Guardian: “The author skillfully combines a coming-of-age story with the plot of a thriller in this convincing debut novel.” Kirkus: Suspenseful, affecting, and disarmingly evocative of childhood and the not-so-distant era of the 1980s.


The Kingdom was an enclosure about four feet above the trail and set back in a natural ring formed by a stand of red oak and thick mountain laurel. Inside, deep green moss provided a natural carpet. Sage and I had dug a deep trench to bury a large suitcase filled with supplies: flashlights, batteries, canned food, sleeping bags and pillows – our own nuclear bunker.

“Ellen is going too far, disturbing their mother as she drives. Libby elbows Ellen to shut her up. But Ellen doesn’t stop.”

“The night we left Ellen on the road, we drove up the mountain in silence.”

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