Hamline News

Jane O'Reilly, MFAC '09, Publishes Debut Novel


The Secret of Goldenrod by Jane O'Reilly 
Published by Carolrhoda Books
Publication date: October 1, 2016
Middle Grade Novel, 376 pages
Order the book from the publisher
Author Site: janeoreilly.net



Announcing the release of The Secret of Goldenrod, the middle grade debut from MFAC '09 alum, Jane O'Reilly. "A classic, timeless debut, full of mystery and magic."

For 11-year-old Trina, home is wherever her father’s work as a master carpenter takes them. She’s always rolled with the punches, wielding a hammer with ease, but now she longs for the mother who abandoned them, and a place to call home. Now she wants the “someday” of her mother’s occasional postcards to be become reality.

Trina and her father’s latest project is Goldenrod, an abandoned wreck of a mansion in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. Although the contract gives them a year to complete the remodeling, and a chance to put down roots, living in Goldenrod comes with a host of problems. The town is miles away, a mean girl dominates fifth-grade, and everyone Trina encounters thinks Goldenrod is haunted. Which it may well be, given the mysterious laughter, the ball that rolls out of nowhere, the strange creakings in the night.

But that part about the haunted house depends on your point of view. Augustine, three inches of sassy, jointed porcelain, is an antique French doll who was left behind when the house was boarded up a century ago, and she’s got her own ideas on the situation. But for Trina it seems like Goldenrod is trying to tell her something - that maybe it has a secret to share. But what could a forgotten old mansion want to tell Trina about her life and what matters most? 



A Junior Library Guild selection with starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus.

This wistful and superlative coming-of-age story highlights the discovery of friendship and belonging in an otherwise chaotic world. Perfect for readers who crave contemporary stories that feel like a classic, this is one to be re-read and enjoyed many times over.
—starred, Booklist

Pitch-perfect…. O’Reilly's multilayered story is superbly presented…. This solid middle-grade book shines with wisdom and compassion.
—starred, Kirkus Reviews 

Gentle debut.... This is a memorable and complex tale about negotiating change and coming into one's own.
—Publishers Weekly 

Those who keep reading will be rewarded by this unique twist on the traditional haunted house story. VERDICT: A strong additional purchase for those who enjoyed Jennifer Chambliss Bertman's Book Scavenger and Tess Hilmo's With a Name Like Love.
—School Library Journal 

Replete with elements of a children's classic: yearning, solitude, hope, friendship, and most of all, magic. An utterly dear book.
—Jane St. Anthony, author of Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart

A bewitching and beautiful story.... Like the mysterious mansion at the heart of the book, Jane O'Reilly's writing is magical.
—Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy



Editing The Secret of Goldenrod
Whether you're a reader or a writer, you might enjoy learning how my editor at Lerner Publishing, Alix Reid, acquired The Secret of Goldenrod and some of the suggestions she made as she edited the manuscript.

November 10: Listen to the Webcast featuring The Secret of Goldenrod at 3:00 EST, hosted by Deborah Ford of the Junior Library Guild. 
Register here.

Jane on twitter @janeheleno



Jane O'Reilly grew up in a very old house on a Mississippi River bluff in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. The youngest of five children, she enjoyed the family's annual month-long camping trips, crisscrossing North America from Circle, Alaska, to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Those trips sparked a love of travel, adventure, cultures, languageand coming home. Jane is the recipient of a McKnight Fellowship in Screenwriting and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. 

She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, dog, and cat in a hundred-year-old house that creaks in the night. Read more at Jane's bio page