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A 2023 National Book Award Finalist
A Michael L. Printz Honor Book
"Arguably one of the finest novels of the year."—Booklist (starred review)
A resourceful teenager in rural Vermont struggles to hold on to the family home while his mom recovers from addiction in this striking debut novel.
Ian Gray isn’t supposed to have a dog, but a lot of things that shouldn’t happen end up happening anyway. And Gather, Ian’s adopted pup, is good company now that Ian has to quit the basketball team, find a job, and take care of his mom as she tries to overcome her opioid addiction. Despite the obstacles thrown their way, Ian is determined to keep his family afloat no matter what it takes. And for a little while, things are looking up: Ian makes friends, and his fondness for the outdoors and for fixing things lands him work helping neighbors. But an unforeseen tragedy results in Ian and his dog taking off on the run, trying to evade a future that would mean leaving their house and their land. Even if the community comes together to help him, would Ian and Gather have a home to return to?
Told in a wry, cautious first-person voice that meanders like a dog circling to be sure it’s safe to lie down, Kenneth M. Cadow’s resonant debut brings an emotional and ultimately hopeful story of one teen’s resilience in the face of unthinkable hardships.
About the Author
Kenneth M. Cadow is an educator and writer. Gather is his first young adult novel. About this book, he says, “In my teaching career, I have encountered dozens upon dozens of stories like Ian’s: kids whose spirits are threatened to be crushed by societal disregard. The kids who are able to pull through by the ingenuity of their skill set and the strength of their character, as well as the care of their larger communities, are some of the strongest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.” Kenneth Cadow is the father of three remarkable adults and lives with his wife and their dog, Quinnie, in Pompanoosuc, Vermont.
Cadow’s debut novel portrays a challenging coming-of-age in rural Vermont with warmth, humor, and insight. Ian observes the turmoil that surrounds him with bewilderment and deadpan humor. . . . Cadow captures Ian’s engaging naïveté, which is tempered by a survivor’s unflappability and a blossoming sense of irony. . . . A heartfelt novel about the challenges of youth and the value of community.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Cadow’s first novel is, in a word, superb. The wonderfully empathic characters are fully realized, their reality enhanced by numerous flashbacks that provide context and dimensionality. The Vermont setting is deeply evocative, as is Ian’s memorable voice, through which the captivating story is told. Arguably one of the finest novels of the year.
—Booklist (starred review)
Full of sensory images and descriptive notes. . . a great ride. . . . The ground constantly shifts in this extraordinary keyhole view of addiction and its ongoing aftermath; Cadow takes his time, but delivers a realistic and compelling novel.
—School Library Journal
Ian’s genuine first-person narration—enriched by his penchant for pithy metaphors and similes—unveils a protagonist whose innate sense of justice and tentatively hopeful perspective buoy Cadow’s sober debut.
Gather is a stunning debut by Kenneth M. Cadow. . . . Anyone who has endured what it’s like to witness someone they love recover from addiction, struggled to afford necessities, or relied on public programs like school lunches will find themselves nodding in agreement as they absorb the words from each page. . . Cadow masterfully describes difficult experiences through melodic language I’ll be thinking about for a very long time. Having grown up in a low-income household, I couldn’t help but think of how much I would’ve appreciated this novel when I was in high school. I’m still grateful I have it now.
This wandering but moving story of Ian's path to adulthood is full of humor and heart.
—The Star Tribune
This book, Gather, feels like one that will stay with me forever. . . seeing this depiction of extreme poverty, this depiction of parental neglect and an utter lack of resources is important. It’s a story familiar to far too many kids. And it’s a story that we adults, especially in education, need to remember. . . This well-written, moving story is one that will stick with me for a long time.
—Teen Librarian Toolbox, an SLJ Blog
There's a well-known belief in the world of education that books can act as mirrors that reflect a reader's own life and as windows that allow a peek into the lives of others. Gather is well positioned to be both.
I loved Gather. The voice is fantastic. It is a wonderful novel by a wonderful writer.
—Kevin Brooks, author of The Bunker Diary and Born Scared