NC Literary Hall of Fame



What I Came to Tell You

What I Came to Tell You by Tommy Hays

Egmont USA
$16.99, hardcover / $9.99, e-book
ISBN: 9781606844335 (hc) / 9781606844342 (e-book)
September, 2013
Ages 10 and up
Available from your local bookstore or

Receiving a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and chosen as a Fall 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), What I Came to Tell You is Tommy Hays’s first middle grade/YA novel. The novel follows twelve-year-old Grover, who, since his mother’s death, has been having a hard time. The only thing that gives him solace is the hours he spends working on his art in the beloved bamboo grove near his Asheville home. His overworked father belittles his efforts; he feels his son is wasting his time and throwing his life away.

As tensions within and without the family build to a boiling point, help tiptoes its way into their lives. A mountain family has moved into the cheap rental nearby, and slowly they work their way into Grover’s forest—and his heart. A prickly and independent neighbor proves to be a stalwart pillar to Grover and his little sister. Even the peculiar young man who always lurks around them plays a role in lifting Grover and his family from their paralyzing grief. Finally, it’s Grover’s own unwavering dedication to his art that brings results that neither he nor his family see coming.

Ron Rash says about What I Came to Tell You, “Tommy Hays has written his best book yet. What I Came to Tell You is a great-hearted novel filled with wisdom and truth. We care, and care deeply, about Hays’ characters as they make their slow, stumbling way from profound grief to the hard-earned acceptance that life can yet be wondrous.”

Tommy Hays is the Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts program at UNC Asheville. His adult novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award in 2006, and has been chosen for numerous community reads, including the One City, One Book program in Greensboro and the Amazing Read in Greenville, SC. His novel, In the Family Way, was winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. For more information go to

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