Just Under the Clouds

Karen B. at Todolwen

Forthcoming from Knopf Books for Young Readers Summer 2018

Always think in threes and you’ll never fall, Cora’s father told her when she was a little girl. Two feet, one hand. Two hands, one foot. That was all Cora needed to know to climb the trees of Brooklyn.

But now, Cora is a middle-schooler, a big sister, and homeless. Her mother is trying to hold the family together after her father’s death, and Cora must look after her sister, Adare, who’s – just different, their mother insists. Quick to smile, Adare hates wearing shoes, rarely speaks, and appears untroubled by the question Cora can’t help but ask: How will she find a place to call home?

When their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora’s mother looks to an old friend for help and they move into her fancy apartment building, where Cora can see Brooklyn’s trees from up high. Cora feels a weight lift now that there is a sturdy lock on the door, but like everything else in life, she realizes, it is not permanent.

As Cora struggles at school, navigates a new friendship, and neglects her responsibility to her sister, she finally finds what she has been looking for: ailanthus altissima, the “tree of heaven,” which can grow in even the worst conditions. It sets her on a path to discover a deeper truth about where she really belongs.