Friday, April 25, 2008

A Good Thursday (big kudos for Emily Wing Smith)

It's Friday and it's raining, and it may snow tonight, but yesterday was cool enough to make it all okay. First, I got to do a Q & A and booktalk with six teens from the Maplewood Public Library teen group, and that's always a ton of fun, but even more exciting is this lovely endorsement I received from the fabulous Sara Zarr for Emily Wing Smith's The Way He Lived.

"This is an absolutely breathtaking and groundbreaking debut about family, community, and faith, and how those things hold up under the microscope of tragedy and in the face of the gray areas that make up so much of life. It's about the ways we know and don't know the people closest to us, including ourselves. Powerful, funny, beautiful, and infinitely real. I love this book."
Wow. Sara Zarr is critically acclaimed author of two remarkable YAs, including the National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl. We are all extremely excited to receive such an emphatic endorsement.

I see that there's no descriptive copy for the book yet on the Flux Web site, so allow me to whet any and all appetites with the one-sentence pitch for the book I use with people around the office (which really only begins to cover the depth and range of Emily's novel):

"In a town like Haven, 16-year-old Joel Epstein could never be who he really was, and now that he’s gone, six teens and a whole community are questioning what they’ve become."

It’s a beautiful portrayal of how one person’s life can anchor a town, and how its departure can unhinge it. Six teens, including his sisters and best friend tell the story of their world without Joel. In its head-on confrontation of faith, family, and sexuality, it's one of the bravest YAs I've ever read. It draws no easy conclusions but is completely riveting.

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