The stars shine brightest out of the deepest dark . . .” A child is imprisoned in a house by her reclusive, religious parents. Hester Wakefield has never spoken to another child, nor seen the outside world. Her one possession is an illustrated children’s Bible, and its imagery forms the sole basis for her capacity to make poetic, real-life connections. Her companions at home are Cat, Spoon, Door, Handle, Broom, and Tree, and they all speak to her, sometimes telling her what to do. One day she takes a brave Alice in Wonderland trip into the forbidden outside, at the behest of Handle, and this overwhelming encounter with light and sky and sunshine is a marvel to her. From this moment on, Hester learns that there are some things she cannot tell her parents, and she keeps this secret to herself. Hester buries it among her other secrets, the ones that take place in the shadowy corners of her insular world, and she keeps them all locked inside her as they multiply and grow, waiting until she can find other ways to be free.
One Foot Wrong challenges the boundaries of right and wrong, sanity and madness, love and justice, poetry and life. The story told by Hester is often dark and harrowing, but the affecting impact of her distinctive voice and her way of seeing the world illuminates every page and makes this novel an exhilarating, enlightening and, ultimately, an uplifting and transformative experience.
Australian actor and young-adult writer Laguna (Too Loud Lily) delivers a grim, creepy, powerful first-person narrative about a direly neglected child whose knowledge of the world is severely circumscribed by her fanatically Christian parents. Told entirely in the solipsistic point of view of Hester, the only child of paranoid, abusive parents, the novel pursues the girl's deeply troubling relationship with them and their bizarre world view. Begrudged her difficult birth, Hester is routinely hung, Christ-like, from her arms in the basement by her depressed mother, who sequesters the young girl in their shared cabin, her only book The Abridged Picture Bible. Hester's brief foray to school, thanks to the intervention of the town authorities, proves eye-opening (she makes her first friend, Mary), but ultimately disastrous. Molested by her father through her adolescence, Hester is finally institutionalized when her parents can no longer control her. Laguna's rendering of Hester's fragile mental state is sympathetic and touching, especially through imagined dialogue with inanimate objects and in the friendship Hester makes with Mary, and then in the institution, with Norma. A truly haunting tale that readers won't soon forget, from a compelling, original voice.