Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 12, 2014: Maximum Shelf: All the Light We Cannot See

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Cartwheel Books: Fly Guy's Big Family (Fly Guy #17) by Tedd Arnold

HarperCollins: Laura's Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

Other Press: What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home by Mark Mazower

Chronicle Books: This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions by Kelli Anderson

Soho Crime: The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers, contributors include Cara Black, Colin Cotterill, Helene Tursten, and more

News

Beaumont BAM Store to Become First 2nd and Charles in Texas

The Books-A-Million store at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont, Tex., closed last Saturday, but will re-open in May as the chain's first 2nd and Charles location in the state, the Beaumont Enterprise reported, noting that "the words, 'A new experience in reading, watching, playing and grooving is coming very soon,' and the black plastic covering the windows and doors were not a good sign to those who cling to a passion for printed books." While local employees said the store will open in May, 2nd and Charles spokeswoman Christine Corbitt could not confirm the date.


Berkley Books: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


Booktrust Study: 'Reading Divide' in the U.K.

The United Kingdom is "divided in terms of reading, with those who read less more likely to be male, under 30 and with lower levels of qualifications, happiness, and satisfaction in their lives,"  the Bookseller reported, citing results from a new Booktrust study that surveyed the reading habits of 1,500 adults. Among the findings:

  • 34% of the AB (more affluent) socioeconomic group read every day, compared to 22% of the DE (working class or lower income earners) group. More than a quarter of DEs (27%) said they never read, compared to 13% of responding AB group.
  • The AB group owned an average of 376 books, compared the DE group's 156. ABs were less likely to think the Internet will replace books.
  • Only 14% of men aged 18-29 read every day, compared to 31% of men aged 60 and over, while 18% of women aged 18-29 and 48% of the over 60 group said they read every day.
  • 18% of adults in England never read physical books, with 56% believing that computers will replace books in 20 years; 27% prefer the Internet and social media to reading books, a figure that rises to 56% among the 18-30 segment.
  • Those who do read are positive about their experiences, with 76% saying that reading improves their lives.

"This research indicates that frequent readers are more likely to be satisfied with life, happier and more successful in their professional lives," said Booktrust CEO Viv Bird. "But there is a worrying cultural divide linked to deprivation. There will never be a one size fits all solution when it comes to social mobility, but reading plays an important role--more action is needed to support families."


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


For Sale: New Zealand's 'Most Beloved Bookshop'

For any prospective bookstore owners who might consider looking beyond U.S. shores for an opportunity, the Nelson Mail reported that Page and Blackmore Booksellers, described as "one of New Zealand's most beloved bookshops, is going up for sale for the first time." The bookshop on Trafalgar St. in Nelson has been named New Zealand's Independent Bookseller of the Year twice and best bookshop in the South Island three times.

Page & Blackmore was founded by Susi & Tim Blackmore and Peter & Ann Rigg in 1998. Each couple had been operating a bookstore on Trafalgar Street, and the creation of Page & Blackmore was conceived as a merger that would put the owners of both Blackmore's Booksellers and Pages Bookshop in a stronger position.

In a written statement to customers, the owners said the bookshop had shown "welcome growth" over the past year and they are confident it is in good health. "We're also hearing encouraging noises from the trade in general, which seem to indicate that independent bookselling is in better shape than some media pundits would have us believe."

Susi Blackmore added that she wanted customers to know the owners would take their time to find the right buyer: "We're keen to find owners who value the shop. It would be terrible if it didn't carry on the way it was, because then we wouldn't have anything to read."


Owlkids: Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn


Mondadori Acquires Anobii

The Mondadori Group has acquired Anobii, a global social reading platform that claims more than a million users worldwide and has its strongest base in Italy, with 300,000.

"A platform that will enable us to listen to people is fundamental for digital development in book publishing and for the creation of the publishing house of the future," said Mondadori CEO Ernesto Mauri.


Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro by Erin Jeanne McDowell


Rooster App: E-Reading Novels in Serial Form

The Rooster app launched this week, with "the backing of some of the biggest names in the tech industry," the Washington Post reported, asking "what if your iPhone could recreate the excitement--and convenience--of reading a novel in serial form?"

Each month, Rooster will send two novels--a classic tale and a contemporary story--to a customer's iPhone "in manageable installments, according to a schedule you set yourself," the Post wrote. Debut titles are Herman Melville's Billy Budd and a literary thriller, I Was Here, written specifically for the format by Rachel Kadish.

Media tech company Plympton owns Rooster as well as DailyLit. The Post noted that "as quixotic as Rooster sounds, some Web-savvy people have put their money behind it, including Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit; Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious; Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk; Andrew McCollum, co-founder of Facebook; Charlie Cheever, co-founder of Quora; and James Hong, co-founder of HOTorNOT. Do these gazillionaires know something about the marketability of classic novels that the rest of us don't?"


Soft Skull: The Job of the Wasp by Colin Winnette


Notes

Image of the Day: Annabelle Gurwitch & Naomi Campbell

Yesterday comedienne/actress/writer Annabelle Gurwitch appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss her new book, I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 (Blue Rider). Here she is in the green room pre-show with Naomi Campbell, who also guested.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


SelectBooks: A Family Business

"I've always had entrepreneurship in my blood," said Kenzi Sugihara, the founder and publisher of SelectBooks, a nonfiction trade publishing house in New York City. "My father was an entrepreneur. He said he ultimately preferred to be his own boss, and so do I."

Kenzi and Kenichi Sugihara

SelectBooks is a family business: Kenzi's son, Kenichi Sugihara, as well as Kenzi's wife, Nancy, also work for SelectBooks, as marketing director and managing editor, respectively. By design, it is a small operation: only Kenzi and Kenichi are in the house's Union Square office on a day-to-day basis, with various freelancers brought for specific projects. Kenzi, who has worked in publishing since the late 1960s and has held high-ranking positions at Random House, Bantam and other houses, founded SelectBooks in 2001 on two principles: publishing strong, legitimate voices from a variety of disciplines, and streamlining the publishing process in order to remain nimble and give the best possible experience to authors.

"Around 15 years ago, I identified the breaking technologies that would lower thresholds for a number of industries, including book publishing," explained Kenzi Sugihara, referring to the proliferation of Internet access and the increasing sophistication of computer tools. "These things have led to a lowering of costs, and just as critically to us, to a lowering of the success threshold for a book," he continued. "At larger publishers, you'd have to publish at least around 20,000 copies for each title; we don't have any restrictions like that."

"We can get away with fewer," added Kenichi Sugihara, who has himself accumulated some 20 years of experience in the publishing business. He got his start in music publishing, and worked at Oxford University Press before joining his father at SelectBooks. "At other, bigger publishers, they might be presented with a book and see that there's clearly a good book there, but the numbers might not justify picking it up."

SelectBooks usually is able to acquire a book and bring it to market much faster than most publishers. Kenichi stressed, however, that it isn't a haphazard or hasty process. "Our authors contribute a lot," he said. "A big part of how we work so efficiently is that we bring in the authors at every step of the process."

"Our process is very full service," continued the elder Sugihara. "We truly do this as a partnership."

SelectBooks now publishes around 20 titles per year, most of which are in three broad categories: business books (generally on leadership, management, sales and marketing, etc.), self-improvement and mind-body-spirit. SelectBooks has had several recent successes, including A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State by John W. Whitehead, Conversations with the Universe: How the World Speaks to Us by Simran Singh (sister of Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina) and People Tools by Alan C. Fox, which recently appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for business books. SelectBooks' most successful title, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm by Verne Harnish, was published early on in SelectBooks' lifetime; more than 100,000 copies were printed. SelectBooks titles are distributed by Midpoint Trade.

As "a matter of course," SelectBooks publishes an e-book version of all new releases, but the Sugiharas view themselves as print book publishers first and foremost.

"One thing we've found is that over the past year, the e-book market seems to be leveling," remarked Kenzi Sugihara. "We're very appreciative of e-book sales, but what we love best is print." --Alex Mutter


Watermark Books: A Gem that 'Has Always felt Like Home'

Patrice Hutton, director of Writers in Baltimore Schools, shared her longtime love for Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan., in a Tin House Book Clubbing blog profile of her hometown bookseller, noting that "strip malls have worked their way into my fiction, likely because they overwhelm the landscape of my childhood. However, I'd also like to think it's because Wichita taught me of their possibilities--that gems may be hidden behind those flat, sterile facades. And because one of those gems has always felt like home....

"Over time, Watermark Books has become more than a bookstore to me, and perhaps, ultimately, that's what makes it home. If it were a storyteller, it'd be able to write its share of my own life story. I've played Scrabble there. Gone on dates. Later sat plotting revenge against said dates. Skipped school. Cried to my best friend. Tried fighting the good fight, be it organizing students for Darfur or fighting injustice in the local ballet world. Sat on a bench outside the bookstore, reading The Bell Jar, simultaneously hating/loving the book for brushing up against my own teenage angst. Tried writing novels. Failed writing novels. Dreamed of the day I might return to Watermark Books for my own book launch party. And that thought is often what keeps me going, draft after draft."


Teenreads.com Debuts 'REAL TALK Publishing'

Teenreads.com has launched a feature called "REAL TALK Publishing: The People Behind the Books," which is designed to offer teens and 20-somethings (it also will run on 20SomethingReads.com) insight into the publishing business beyond books and authors. A three-part interview with New York Times children's book editor Sarah Harrison Smith started the series this week.

Shara Zaval, editorial manager for Kidsreads.com and Teenreads.com, conceptualized the feature and conducts the interviews. Next up will be Chip Kidd, whose interview will run in early April.


GBO Picks Goose the Bear

The German Book Office in New York has selected Goose the Bear by Katja Gehrmann, translated by Connie Stradling Morby (Sky Pony Press, $16.95, 9781626363847) as its March Book of the Month.

The GBO said that Goose the Bear "tells the heartwarming and species-confused story with the help of colorful, offbeat illustrations and narrative by writer and illustrator Katja Gehrmann."

Gehrmann has studied illustration in Mexico, Spain and Germany, has published other children's books, including The Angry Little Night, and works for magazines. She has won many awards for her illustration, including a Golden Apple of the Biennial of  Illustrations Bratislava.

Morby's previous translations include Emma in Buttonland by Ulrike Rylance and My New Granny by Elisabeth Steinkellner.


Personnel Changes at Random House Publisher Services

At Random House Publisher Services:
 
Katie Ly has been named manager, client development
Christina Stanley has been named manager, programming and education
Tessa Reck has been promoted to senior imprint sales manager
Whitney Chenoweth has been promoted to associate manager, client support
Pete Desrochers has been promoted to associate sales manager
Jenn Lara has been promoted to sales coordinator
Rachel Goldstein, v-p, finance and operations, now additionally will oversee online marketing services provided to customers



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Warren Lehrer on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Wendy Sue Swanson, author of Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting, Child Health, and Work-Life Balance (American Academy of Pediatrics, $16.95, 9781581108378).

---

Tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us (Hudson Street Press, $25.95, 9781594631382).

---

Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Patricia Pearson, author of Opening Heaven's Door: Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After (Atria, $25, 9781476757063).

---

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Warren Lehrer, author of A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley (Goff, $34.95, 9781939621023). As the show put it: "Warren Lehrer is a book-designer whose interest in the look and shape of books has led him to become what he calls 'an illuminated novelist.' A Life in Books follows the life and writing of Bleu Mobley, an invented writer whose 101 self-designed books illuminate these pages. We discuss the future of books, of authorship, and of print itself."

---

Tomorrow on PBS's To the Contrary: Jenny Bowen, author of Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062192004).

---

Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Simon Schama, author of Story of the Jews, The: Finding the Words 1000 B.C.-1492 A.D. (Ecco, $39.99, 9780060539184).


Movie Trailers: Devil's Knot; Tracks

A trailer is out for Devil's Knot, adapted from Mara Leveritt's book Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, Deadline.com reported. Directed by Atom Egoyan, he film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, Stephen Moyer, Alessandro Nivola and Dane DeHaan. It hits U.S. theaters May 9.

---

A U.S. trailer has been released for Tracks, based on the book by Robyn Davidson. The film stars Mia Wasikowska and is directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), Film Stage noted.


Books & Authors

World Literature: Best Translated Book Award Longlist

The Best Translated Book Award jury announced its longlist yesterday, creating the possibility of a two-peat for author Laszlo Krasznahorkai, although not offering the same opportunity for translator Ottilie Mulzet, as George Szirtes translated last year's winning Satantango.

This year the submissions exceeded 500 for the first time, and came from more than 140 publishers worldwide, many of them small presses like Frisch & Co., Hispabooks Publishing, New Vessel Press, Sylph Editions, Nightboat Books, Ugly Duckling Presse and Tam Tam Books. Books from 23 presses made the longlist.

The honorees range in length from the 36-page cahier Her Not All Her to the two-volume 854-page, slipcased A True Novel. Two books, both from Archipelago Books, are from series: Blinding is the first of a trilogy and My Struggle, Book Two, second of a hexology. Both are striking new works of autobiographical fiction.  

Books translated from Spanish, with four submissions, edged out French, Hungarian, Norwegian, Japanese, Romanian, Dutch, Swedish, Arabic, German, Czech, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew and Icelandic.

The great thing about this award, the great thing about literature in translation in general, is that the books won't find their way to the end of an algorithm and several wouldn't work at all as e-books. (For example, in Her Not All Her, 11 sentences in the original German are written between the lines in a different color--red--and full-bleed color illustrations facing the text. Leg over Leg has the original Arabic on the facing pages. A True Novel is a two-volume slipcase. You could read it on a device but that just wouldn't be any fun.) And they, of course, all look really nice next to each other. These books are made for handselling. You'll soon be able to download shelf talkers.

It's crunch time for the BTBA jury, who are required to read all of the longlist titles. That's 24 books in 35 days. The finalists will be announced on April 15, the winner on April 24. --George Carroll

The 25 selections, in random order:

Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions, originally published in Hungary)
My Struggle: Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett (Archipelago Books, Norway)
The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, translated by Jeffrey Gray (Yale University Press, Guatemala)
A True Novel by Minae Mizumura, translated by Juliet Winters (Other Press, Japan)
Blinding by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated by Sean Cotter (Archipelago Books, Romania)
Tirza by Arnon Grunberg, translated by Sam Garrett (Open Letter, Netherlands)
Sleet by Stig Dagerman, translated by Steven Hartman (David R. Godine, Sweden)
Through the Night by Stig Sæterbakken, translated by Seán Kinsella (Dalkey Archive Press, Norway)
Leg over Leg Vol. 1 by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, translated by Humphrey Davies (Library of Arabic Literature, NYU Press, Lebanon)
City of Angels or, The Overcoat of Dr. Freud by Christa Wolf, translated by Damion Searls (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, Germany)
The Infatuations by Javier Marias, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Knopf, Spain)
Commentary by Marcelle Sauvageot, translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley and Anna Moschovakis (Ugly Duckling Presse, France)
Her Not All Her by Elfriede Jelinek, translated by Damion Searls (Sylph Editions, Austria)
Red Grass by Boris Vian, translated by Paul Knobloch (Tam Tam Books, France)
The Forbidden Kingdom by Jan Jacob Slauerhoff, translated by Paul Vincent (Pushkin Press, Netherlands)
The Whispering Muse by Sjón, translated by Victoria Cribb (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Iceland)
The Devil's Workshop by Jachym Topol, translated by Alex Zucker (Portobello Books, Czech Republic)
Horses of God by Mahi Binebine, translated by Lulu Norman (Tin House Books, Morocco)
In the Night of Time by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Edith Grossman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Spain)
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated by Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov (New York Review Books, Ukraine)
The End of Love by Marcos Giralt Torrente, translated by Katharine Silver (McSweeney's Books, Spain)
Sandalwood Death by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt (University of Oklahoma Press, China)
Textile by Orly Castel-Bloom, translated by Dalya Bilu (Feminist Press, Israel)
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions, Italy)
The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal, translated by Nick Caistor (New Vessel Press, Argentina)


Awards: Books for a Better Life; Amer. Academy of Arts & Letters

The winners of this year's Books for a Better Life Awards, sponsored by the Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and honoring "self-improvement authors whose messages are aligned with the chapter's mission of inspiring people to live their best lives," are:

Childcare: Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman (Harmony Books)
Cookbook: Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Little, Brown)
First Book: Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler (Scribner)
Green: Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation by Dan Fagin (Bantam)
Inspirational Memoir: Taylor's Gift: A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope by Todd and Tara Storch with Jennifer Schuchmann (Revell)
Motivational: Handling the Truth by Beth Kephart (Gotham Books)
Psychology: Outsmarting Anger: 7 Strategies for Defusing our Most Dangerous Emotion by Joseph Shrand, M.D. and Leigh Devine, MS (Jossey-Bass)
Relationships: Carry On Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton (Scribner)
Spiritual: What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell (HarperOne)
Wellness: Bouncing Back by By Linda Graham, MFT (New World Library)        

---

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the 20 writers who will receive its 2014 awards in literature, which will be presented in May at the Academy's annual ceremony in New York City. The literature prizes, totaling $230,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. You can find the complete list of this year's honorees here.


Book Brahmin: Frederick Dillen

photo: Leslie Dillen

Frederick Dillen was born in Greenwich Village in New York City, raised on scholarship in a New Hampshire boarding school and graduated from Stanford. His short fiction has appeared in literary quarterlies and Prize Stories 1996: The O. Henry Awards. His book Hero was named Best First Novel of 1994 by the Dictionary of Literary Biography. His second novel, Fool, was a Nancy Pearl Book Lust Rediscovery. Dillen's newest novel is Beauty (Simon & Schuster, March 4, 2014). Dillen and his wife, Leslie, are parents of two grown daughters and live in New Mexico with a frantic, yellow, 50-pound, knee-high, one-ear-up-one-down shelter-dog named Lucy.

On your nightstand now:

Renata Adler's novel Speedboat, a New York Review of Books reissue (originally out in the mid-'70s). Adler is smart, and her smarts have range and depth and nuance. For how bright she is, she's not just accessible but is at moments all but unbearably vulnerable. There are these fine sentences, not pretentious but fine enough to keep you at an admiring distance, and then the bottom falls out and you are instantly inside anybody's--even your own--life split open. Speedboat arrives in a collage of impression and snippet, each arresting, many unconnected, all outside of, or very mixed up in, traditional sensibilities about time and story. The result being that if you're going to make it through Speedboat, you have to just let it wash over you. The what-happens-next of a story is hardly to be found, and yet, for me, the novel works wonderfully.

Off the point, the voice that comes to me in Speedboat is the voice of a girl a bit older than I once was, and a lot cooler. She knows things, and when she doesn't, they are the right things not to know. She has adventures and has them without a thought. She is bafflingly, heartbreakingly unreachable, except when she is.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I grew up in a family that had penetrating misfortunes, and I can remember baseball through that scrim, but not a favorite book. And although my parents were educated and kind and, in early days, functional, they didn't read to me. What I do remember is reading to my own daughter Abigail when she was little. I read her everything, from Pooh and Toad to Charlotte and the Wild Things and Eloise. But what I had most fun reading were the Joel Chandler Harris stories about Brer Rabbit and his gang. I knew the stories were politically incorrect by that time, and incorrect not least because of their dialect, but that dialect let me make voices, and Abbie liked the voices, and I liked making them. What can I say? Well, I can apologize. But nobody else heard, and those half hours at Abbie's naptime were a joy.

Your top five authors:

Flannery O'Connor, the stories especially. And then it's changeable, depending. I've been rereading Americans, so: Twain, especially in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Bellow in Herzog; Roth in parts, if never the whole book, but the parts are so good who cares. And the crime novel addiction beginning, as ever, with Chandler and Hammett.

Book you've faked reading:

In maybe fourth grade at our public school, there was a weekly library hour, and one week it came to me I should be a reader, so I took out seven books--a couple of Freddy the Pigs, The Kid Who Batted 1.000, so on. Library day the next week, I got off the bus with my seven books to return, and a girl said accusingly, like she really knew, "You didn't read all those books." Although I wasn't happy about lying, I didn't give a thought to not lying. I said, sternly, defensively I guess--still a vivid memory, on the steps off the bus, not fun--I said, too loud, "Yes I did." She didn't believe me, but she walked away.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Andre Dubus, the father of the current memoirist and novelist by the same name, was one of the great American short-story writers. Other serious writers profoundly admired Andre's work, but he never received corresponding popular acclaim, and I worry that his stories are slipping below the radar of today's readers. His Selected Stories is a great, great book and an introduction to more great work.

Book you've bought for the cover:

If I see a lurid cover for a noir, say, The Maltese Falcon, I grab the book.

Book that changed your life:

It came late, after a good education and several years guessing that I wanted to write: Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge. The weirdness, the black humor, the urgency of pain, the slipperiness of the ordinary and the gothic theological horrors reaching blind for redemption, and all of it through the luminous (not a comma wasted, never a careless word) subversion of O'Connor's prose. It came to me that this was why I had chosen writing instead of a usual job. Not that I write in O'Connor's vein or, please, imagine my work in the same room with hers, but the voice of her work is inside me, prodding me into something that might be godly terror.

Favorite line from a book:

A favorite line and a last line, The Great Gatsby, of course. It still works:
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

And a mystery bonus, to do with a police horse on the streets of New York during a potentially difficult encounter:
"But then the carrot was sniffed, and the lips flopped over it like a retired trumpet player at a martini, and half the carrot was gone." [Ed.: Mystery solved! This line comes from Dillen's own Fool.]

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Thurber has a story called "The Dog That Bit People." I loved the story, thought it immensely funny, could barely finish it for laughing when I read it aloud to my girls, who also laughed--though whether at me or the story, I couldn't be sure. When my godmother, Caroline, whom I loved with every bone in my body, was dying, I took "The Dog That Bit People" to read to her and cheer her up. She saw me and knew me, but little else; there was little of her left. I started to read the story and wept into the pages and couldn't go on. I have not looked at the story since, but there is a part of me that wants to think if I did read it again, and if I laughed until I couldn't breathe, and if my girls were girls again and laughed too, then Caroline would be fine and would laugh with us.


Book Review

YA Review: Going Over

Going Over by Beth Kephart (Chronicle, $17.99 hardcover, 272p., ages 14-up, 9781452124575, April 1, 2014)

Going Over, the newest novel from Beth Kephart, like her Small Damages, reveals the unseen scars of war.

Set in early 1983, it's the romantic, gut-wrenching story of Ada and Stefan, teens living on the opposite sides of the Berlin Wall, who alternate as narrators. The deep friendship between their grandmothers, Omi and Grossmutter, dating back to World War II, means graffiti artist Ada has known Stefan since she was two years old and "loved him since the day I turned 12." With her grandmother Omi, Ada makes the journey across the Wall to Stefan's East Berlin as many as four times a year. As Ada nears her 16th birthday, she is desperate for Stefan to do the unthinkable: cross the Wall. For Stefan, the journey is beyond dangerous. His mother and grandfather made the trip and never returned for him. For every newspaper clipping Ada can smuggle over telling of someone's successful escape, Stefan can find a failed attempt. When failure will mean death or imprisonment, is it better to live at arm's length from love or to make the jump? As Stefan weighs the consequences of running and staying, Ada finds herself entangled in another struggle when Savas, a young Turkish boy from the daycare she works for, goes missing. All the while, the dangers of the Stasi and the Wall loom ominously in the background.

Kephart's novel is one of heartache and triumph. Rather than painting an overtly rosy picture of life on either side of the Wall, Kephart shows the struggles of life in a divided Berlin. Ada's and Stefan's alternating chapters give readers a window into both worlds. Though Ada has considerably more chapters, the emotion and danger packed into Stefan's chapters make his resonate just as powerfully. Beautiful characters, some drawn from real life, bring the story into sharp focus as the power of love is brought to light in its various facets. To Kephart's credit, Ada and Stefan's love is not the only one shown. From rebellious Arabella and her American suitor, to Ada's mother's new artist boyfriend, who may or may not abandon her as so many others have, to the decades-long friendship of Omi and Grossmutter, love abounds in this novel. Going Over carefully balances love and heartbreak, propelling readers through the story, constantly wondering about the fate of Savas and whether Stefan will be able to cross over. The dangers and consequences Kephart portrays are as real as the victories and joys. --Kyla Paterno

Shelf Talker: Two teens living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall fall in love, but is their love great enough for one of them to risk death in an attempt to escape East Berlin?


Powered by: Xtenit