Sugaring Off

Available Now from Algonquin Young Readers


Available in Hardcover, Ebook, and Audiobook

Paperback edition available 11/7/23–preorder now!

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A dazzling and evocative novel about love and loss—with a dash of thrilling mystery—for fans of Mindy McGinnis and Courtney Summers. 

Left partially deaf by an early childhood tragedy that ended in her father’s incarceration, seventeen-year-old Owl is now a tracker, an explorer, a wildlife enthusiast, and always her freest self while hiking the steep forested acres surrounding her aunt and uncle’s maple sugar farm, now her home. Owl and her aunt and uncle never speak of the brutal attack that brought her to them. On the day she confronts a stranger trespassing among the maples, Owl’s sheltered existence is blown wide open by Cody—the magnetic, dangerous young man hired to help with the sugaring off. Cody seems to see her, the real her, in a way no one else does. Together, they challenge each other, learn to question their preconceptions, and risk a romance their families are desperate to stop.  
But when Owl learns that some part of Cody is compelled toward self-destruction, she must make a difficult decision about their relationship at the same time she’s grappling with her father’s recent release from prison. And when a seemingly motiveless local murder draws attention to Cody, Owl realizes that Cody is in far more serious trouble than anyone knows—and it’s followed him to her mountain.

Critical Praise for SUGARING OFF:

“As ever, French weaves her storylines deftly . . . bracing as a late-winter morning.” – Kirkus Reviews

Sugaring Off is a story about trust and absolution, and Gillian French has created a narrative that is engaging, well-told, and well worth investing in to experience this rich world.” – New York Journal of Books

“As in French’s other books, she treats her working-class characters with compassion but not preciousness, with a third-person narration that shows the complications of small-town life without exploiting it for drama.” – The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

“The austere narrative undergoes a significant tonal shift when a sudden murder tilts it toward thriller territory, but Owl’s character remains consistent: watchful, resolute, and holding tightly to the things she refuses to lose.” – Booklist

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