Relative Strangers

Coming April 10, 2018Relative Strangers cover

Why is there a gap in Jules’s baby album? A wry and poignant coming-of-age novel about finding the truth in lies, salvaging hope in heartbreak, and making peace with missing pieces.

Eighteen-year-old Jules has always wished for a close-knit family. She never knew her father, and her ex-addict mother has always seemed more interested in artistic endeavors than in bonding with her only daughter. Jules’s life and future look as flat and unchanging as her small Illinois town. Then a simple quest to find a baby picture for the senior yearbook leads to an earth-shattering discovery: for most of the first two years of her life, Jules lived in foster care. Reeling from feelings of betrayal and with only the flimsiest of clues, Jules sets out to learn the truth about her past. What she finds is a wonderful family who loved her as their own and hoped to adopt her — including a now-adult foster brother who is overjoyed to see his sister again. But as her feelings for him spiral into a devastating, catastrophic crush — and the divide between Jules and her mother widens — Jules finds herself on the brink of losing everything.

Phantom Limbs

Phantom Limbs coverAvailable Now!

Moving on has never been Otis’s strong suit. After three years, he’s still reeling from the death of his younger brother, Mason, and from the sudden departure of his best friend and first love, Meg, whose family moved across the country after Mason died. Otis would never have survived these last few years without Dara, his ball-busting, one-armed friend and self-appointed swim coach, who is hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. Otis, though, is increasingly sure that he’d rather find his own dream than continue chasing Dara’s – especially when he learns that, after three years of radio silence, Meg is coming back for the summer.

All Otis wants is for him and Meg to be as close as they once were (okay, maybe a little closer) – despite Meg’s mysterious defection, despite the football player all over her Facebook page, despite Dara’s tightening grip and loosening screws. But as they sift through the archaeology of their past and Otis discovers the reasons behind Meg’s disappearance, he must face some uneasy truths about his brother’s death – and about himself. As he realizes that none of their visions of the perfect future can ever pan out – not Dara’s, not Meg’s, not his – Otis must decide which dreams to hold on to and which to leave behind.


Praise for Phantom Limbs

The Guardian names “Phantom Limbs” among its select Children’s Books Roundup: The Best New Picture Books and Novels
The Guardian Children’s Book Roundup

“Phantom Limbs” named to the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program Master List 2017-2018.
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program Master List

“Phantom Limbs” named to Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2017 Edition.
Bank Street College of Education, Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2017 Edition

“Phantom Limbs” named to ILLINOIS READS 2017 List. This statewide project promoting reading for Illinois citizens annually selects six books in each of six different age categories ranging from read-to books for infants to adult readers. 
ILLINOIS READS Project, 2017 Press Release 

“A must-have.”
School Library Journal (starred review)

Garner’s debut gently but deeply explores how loss and grief affect different people in different ways, and the strength it takes to live on through it.”
Phantom Limbs featured on Barnes & Noble’s 22 of Our Most Anticipated Contemporary YAs of the Second Half of 2016 list

“Tragedy cuts deep, and every character in this book has scars – terribly visible or under the surface – and they are beautiful. Paper Towns fans take note, this is your new favorite book.”
Leah Moore, Northshire Bookstore The Autumn 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview

“Otis is a refreshingly authentic male protagonist who will win readers over . . . [A]n uplifting story about resilience and the power of relationships.”
Sarah Weber, BookPage Review, Web Exclusive – September 13, 2016

“Garner’s debut is impressive . . . The nuanced way that Garner deals with loss is not only beautifully done, but it’s thoughtful and insightful. . . . [A] quietly affecting, well-written gem of a book that will resonate with readers, long after the last page has been reached. A definite YA standout for 2016.”
Romantic Times

“Dazzling. This book has so much truth and beauty, your heart will ache trying to contain it.”
Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King

“Powerful, affecting, and beautifully written, this haunting story of love and loss will linger long after you’ve turned the final page.”
Kerry Kletter, author of The First Time She Drowned

“I am overcome with love for this book. Sophisticated, moving, and completely beautiful, Paula Garner has a forever fan in me.”
Emily Henry, author of The Love That Split the World

“Heartbreaking and hopeful. The friendship at its heart is one of the best I’ve ever read, as beautiful as it is complicated. Absolutely stunning.”
Kali Wallace, author of Shallow Graves

“Pitch-perfect voice, a love story that makes you ache, and such a beautiful, nuanced look at grief and life and death. This is a masterpiece.”
Ashley Herring Blake, author of Suffer Love

“Exquisite. Not to be missed.”
Karen Hattrup, author of Frannie and Tru


Coming 2019

Co-authored with Audrey Coulthurst

Two very different high school girls with painful home lives fall into an intense text-message-based friendship built around an imaginary world, only to have that safe place compromised as their real lives unravel and one falls in love with the other.