On the day Daniel Sartain will remember for the rest of his life, the  chilly morning air feels damp and smells of fallen leaves. He stands in  the woods of rural Georgia before daybreak with his role model, best  friend, and father figure, Uncle Clay, and dreams of being back home  under warm blankets. Hunting in the Sartain family woods has been a  tradition since it was a necessity for the first Sartains who came to  Georgia over 100 years ago, and Clay insists that Daniel take part in  the family custom. But when Daniel's gun accidentally fires and Uncle  Clay suddenly goes down, the woods around Daniel fill with deafening  silence, and he is left to wonder what will become of him now.

GONE FROM THESE WOODS (Delacorte Books for Young Readers 2009,  Yearling Paperback Edition 2011, Random House Children's Books, plus  library edition and eBook editions) tells a gripping tale of overcoming  guilt and grief, and learning to go on. In this poignant debut novel,  Donny Bailey Seagraves tackles the tough but prevalent topic of gun  violence (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that  1.69 million children live in homes where firearms have not been put in  safe places) and lends her smart voice to this hot-button issue. The  protagonist of GONE FROM THESE WOODS struggles with the fallout of his  mistake, and also faces the abuse of an alcoholic father.

As Daniel learns to listen to the kind words from his uncle that  replay in his mind and accepts help from a school guidance counselor,  his story unfolds into a moving and important message for middle  graders. In GONE FROM THESE WOODS, Seagraves, an Athens, Georgia native  and long-time resident of the tiny town of Winterville, deftly  illustrates the culture and tradition of the American rural South and  how one boy must learn how to navigate this world.

From the back cover of the Yearling paperback edition:

I didn't want to go rabbit hunting with Uncle Clay on that cold November morning. But I went. Now I have to live with what happened for the rest of my life. It was just an accident. A careless accident. The rabbit ran away. Clay fell beside me. But he wasn't dead. Clay couldn't be dead.

Nothing has been the same for eleven-year-old Daniel Sartain since that morning in the woods when Uncle Clay went down. Mom tries to hold the family together with her comfort and love. Mrs. Hardy, Daniel's guidance counselor at school, offers a sanctuary in her office as she tries to help Daniel survive after losing his role model and best friend. At the same time, Daniel's alcoholic father, Clay's older brother, makes a tragic situation worse.

The memory of that cold morning in the Georgia woods -- and most of all the hurt -- will stay with Daniel forever. But somehow, he must find a way to go on . . . for Uncle Clay . . . and for himself.

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GONE FROM THESE WOODS is

  • A Brodart McNaughton List Pick
  • An Accelerated Reader
  • A SIBA Book Award Nominee
  • A FlamingNet.com Top Choice Award pick
  • A Cybils Award Middle Grade Novel

Donny Bailey Seagraves was a Georgia Author of the Year Nominee for GONE FROM THESE WOODS.

More Information

ISBN: 978-9-38573629-9 (Trade Edition) - ISBN: 978-0385-90599-2 (Library Edition) - ISBN: 978-0-375-84504-8 (Yearling Paperback Edition) - ISBN: 0385736290 (Kindle eBook Edition)