Thoughts on a Book: The Decoding of Lana Morris

Sixteen-year-old Lana Morris wishes her life were different. She wishes Veronica Winters, her Ice Queen of  a foster mother, would leave her alone. She wishes K.C. and Trina and Spink – the only teens around, not counting the “special needs” kids in the Winters house –  would let her into their creepy little club.

Then Lana stumbles into Miss Hekkity’s mysterious antique shop and trades her most valued possession for a single box of paper: thirteen thick, pink-flecked sheets enclosed in a black leather case. Thirteen blank pages…like thirteen wishes waiting to be made. As soon as Lana’s charcoal pencil meets the paper, strange events begin to unfold – whatever she draws seems to happen, and whatever she erases comes undone. But just as Lana starts to think she might actually have the power to change things, a carefully drawn wish threatens to harm those she loves the most.

Award-winning authors Laura and Tom McNeal weave a warmhearted and suspenseful story about the power – and danger – of a wish.


Laura Rhoton McNeal is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in fiction writing from Syracuse University. She taught middle school and high school English before becoming a novelist and a journalist.

Tom McNeal graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a Wallace Steuger Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. His prizewinning stories have been widely anthologized, and his novel Goodnight, Nebraska won the James A. Michiner Memorial Prize and the California Book Award for Fiction.

Together, Laura and Tom McNeal are the authors of Crooked, winner of the California Book Award for Juvenile Literature and an ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults; Zipped, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children’s Literature, and Crushed. The McNeals live in Fallbrook, California, with their two sons, Sam and Hank.

To learn more about the authors and their books, please visit http://www.mcnealbooks.com.

  1. Lana Morris as seen in the front cover looks like Anna Paquin. Get this: Morris also has a gap tooth that fits a dime.
  2. Foster parents as bad as Veronica has a special place in hell.
  3. Sure. Lana should end up with her next-door neighbor/podcaster/hero but she has better connection with her foster father. That kiss. So nice. Inappropriate bordering on illegal but still nice.
  4. Tilly is the best character. She comes across as an adorable special needs child still capable of understanding situations and making correct decisions. Lana is in good hands as long as she has this pink fan as a confidante.
  5. The Decoding of Lana Morris is a different kind of YA read. It retains the usual elements of teen angst and love angles but allocates significant space discussing special needs children and foster homes. It is a simple but substantial tale of understanding – or in this case – decoding the more important things in life. 
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