Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 21, 2019

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Little, Brown Ink: The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (a Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

Amulet Books: Batcat: Volume 1 by Meggie Ramm

Berkley Books: The Comeback Summer by Ali Brady


National Book Award Winners

The winners of the 2019 National Book Awards, presented last night in New York City, are:


Fiction: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Holt). Choi said, in part, "The longer I do this--write books and also teach writing for a living--the more I'm struck by how it's really its own reward, given what we're all facing today and what many people are facing. In an even more intense sense, I really find it an astonishing privilege that this is what I get to do for a living, and I get to do it with people like you."


Nonfiction: The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom (Grove Press). Broom thanked many people, including her mother, the poet Ivory Mae. She remembered "how, as I child, I watched her every move, seeing her eyes fall upon every word anywhere, encountered in the grocery store, on a bus, pamphlets, the package labels, my high school textbooks. She was always wolfing down words, insatiable, which is how I learned the ways in which words were a kind of sustenance, to be a beautiful relief or a greatest assault, how I learned that words were the best map."


Poetry: Sight Lines by Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon Press). Sze said, in part, "We need poetry now more than ever. I believe poetry is an essential language. It helps us slow down, see clearly, feel deeply and envision what truly matters."


Translated Literature: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions). Krasznahorkai said, in part, "Last but not least, I'd like to thank the National Book Awards for opening up this category once again. It is a tremendous joy that through our translations we, too, can be at home in the United States of America."


Young People's Literature: 1919: The Year That Changed America by Martin W. Sandler (Bloomsbury Children's Books). Sandler noted, "I'm particularly honored to have been in the company of my four fellow nominees, and I will say that as the elder statesman of them, I am so confident about the future of young people's literature.... I've written 60 books. I intend to write at least 60 more. And I hope I'm back here again to celebrate with you."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

ABA's Oren Teicher Receives Literarian Award

At the NBA gala last night, the National Book Foundation presented its 2019 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Oren Teicher, who retired at the end of October as CEO of the American Booksellers Association, where he worked for more than 30 years.

In its award announcement, the Foundation nicely summed up the honoree's accomplishments, saying, "Teicher has emphasized the importance of the shop local movement, advocated for fair and sustainable tax laws, and worked to put the struggles and successes of independent bookstores into the public consciousness through increased media coverage and broader cultural awareness. Working closely with store owners, booksellers, and the publishing industry, Teicher has encouraged the growth of Winter Institute and Children's Institute, further cultivating a strong and united bookselling community, and has invigorated collaborations between indies and publishers through improved sales terms and innovative marketing incentives. From 2009 to 2019, during the years of Teicher's tenure as CEO of the ABA, the number of independent bookstores jumped from 1,651 to 2,534, with ABA membership as well as store sales increasing in lock step."

Oren Teicher

In his remarks, Teicher thanked the Foundation, his family, and a range of groups and people, including "my many friends in the publishing and distribution community who are here tonight. I've had the privilege of working with so many of you for so many years. And, while, we may not always have agreed on everything, I am inalterably convinced that the partnership between publishers and independent booksellers has forged the kind of stronger book community that has spread the joy of reading to millions of Americans."

He called working on behalf of indie booksellers "a dream job. I've never ever not wanted to go to work. The creativity, ingenuity, and resilience of booksellers is nothing less than remarkable. And, though I know the National Book Foundation has singled me out tonight for this award--for which I am sincerely humbled--I accept it on behalf of the thousands of indie booksellers all across this country who every day, thousands and thousands of times, perform that special act of magic by placing the right book in a reader's hands. That simple act, whether it entertains, teaches, or inspires, makes the world a far, far better place, and, for me, to have been associated with that magic, has been the highlight of my professional life.

"I was asked recently about what was it about my job at ABA that I liked the most, and I knew the answer almost immediately. I responded by saying that because of my years at ABA I have a good friend in every town and city in America, let alone around the world. In the words of the poet W.B. Yeats, "Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends."

Ann Patchett

He was presented the award by author and bookseller Ann Patchett, who said about Teicher, "To many people in the industry he is the man behind the curtain at the American Booksellers Association. He's been working on behalf of independent bookstores for more than 30 years. He's made us stronger, more practical, more united, more expansive. And I would lay a bet he's been in more bookstores in this country than any other person ever. And he's treated us all equally. He's fought for our rights as small business owners and as passionate lovers of literature. He's fostered our community through his leadership....

"Oren has seen us through box stores, through Amazon and Kindles, through financial downturns, and he never once gave up on us. Instead he helped us reinvent ourselves to fit the times."

She also paid tribute to him for helping booksellers become a more significant part of the National Book Awards. "There was a time you never would have seen a bookseller serve as a judge for an important literary award like this one even though booksellers read pretty much around the clock, and we have Oren to thank for that as well. As he steps away from his job, he is leaving us so much better and so much stronger than he found us....

"There is a lesson in all of this tonight: if you don't know Oren, you need to spend more time with your local independent booksellers and you need to spend more time with the American Booksellers Association.... Independent booksellers play an outsized role in holding up writers and publishing, and they deserve our respect and support."

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire

Bookseller Judges at the NBA

The five judges in each category of the National Book Awards included a bookseller:

Fiction: Javier Ramirez, who manages the Book Table in Oak Park, Ill., runs the store's Authors on Tap series, and is co-host of Publishing Cocktails, the semi-annual Chicagoland social bringing together booksellers and authors. He's also a member of the American Booksellers Association ABC Advisory Council.
Nonfiction: Mark Laframboise, who has worked at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., for more than 20 years, primarily as head book buyer.
Poetry: John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL: A Bookstore, which has two locations, in Brentwood in Los Angeles and a newly opened one in San Diego.
Translated Literature: Shuchi Saraswat, buyer at Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., who created and curates the Transnational Literature Series, which focuses on migration, exile and displacement, with an emphasis on works in translation.
Young People's Literature: Kristen Gilligan, co-owner of the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., where she works with elementary, middle and high schools; brings authors to schools; created two Teen Advisory Boards, the Colorado Teen Book Con, and the statewide Colorado Big Summer Read. She's also on the ABC Advisory Council of the American Booksellers Association, where she worked for many years.

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Welcome to the World by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Second Greedy Reads Location Celebrates Soft Opening

The new Greedy Reads location in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore, Md., celebrated its soft opening on Monday with an author event featuring Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie, in conversation with Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Damn Self.

Greedy Reads owner Julia Fleischaker (l.) with Audie and author Candice Carty-Williams (r.)

Owner Julia Fleischaker, who opened the original Greedy Reads location in the Fells Point area in 2018, reported that the new store is now open seven days a week and will have its official grand opening this Saturday with an all-day party.

At around 1,300 square feet, the new store is larger than the original and carries a similar mix of fiction, nonfiction, YA and children's titles, along with classics and a variety of sidelines. Fleischaker plans to make use of the additional space by expanding the store's roster of events programming.

Interabang Books Reopens in New Location

Interabang Books, the Dallas, Tex., bookstore that was destroyed by a tornado last month, reopened yesterday in its new location at 5600 W. Lovers Lane.

"This is the announcement loyal customers and followers of Interabang Books have been waiting for," the bookstore said in a Facebook post (titled "Chapter Two Begins..."). "We have opened for business at our new spot this afternoon, one month to the day after the October 20 tornado. To be very clear, this is the bookstore's NEW LOCATION in the Pavilion on Lovers Lane: 5600 W. Lovers Lane, between Inwood and the Dallas North Tollway, near Chico's and Eatzi's. You are the first to know! The OPEN NOW banner won't go up until Thursday morning, so look for the bright blue door near the end of the shopping center close to the Tollway. Shipments of books and gifts are still arriving, but the significance of the one-month milestone and our desire to see friends' faces like yours again was too strong to wait any longer. Interabang will be open from 10:00 to 8:00 daily through December. We look forward to seeing you today, tomorrow, this weekend, and from now on!"

Earlier this week, Paper City reported that "in a collaboration of hustle and eagerness, the Interabang crew, including partners Nancy Perot, Kyle Hall and Lori Feathers, found a temporary space to call home just a few days after the tornado struck."

"We have a crew of people who are really eager to get back to doing what we do. My goal was to be back in business a month after the tornado," said Hall, adding that they are exploring the possibility of staying long-term in the new space if possible. Although they would like to return to the original Preston Royal shopping center site, the rebuild could take a year or even longer.

Hall also thanked Interabang's loyal customers for playing a big role in keeping the motivation going: "We discovered the depth of feeling amongst customers."

Obituary Note: Walter J. Minton

Walter J. Minton, who as president of G.P. Putnam's Sons "published Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, the 18th-century novel known as Fannie Hill and other sexually explicit works that rankled the guardians of decency but broke ground against censorship," died November 20, the New York Times reported. He was 96.

"Balancing a passion for books and a tolerance for risk," Minton succeeded his father, Melville Minton, in 1955 at the helm of Putnam's and its subsidiaries, the Times wrote. Over the next 23 years, he published Norman Mailer's The Deer Park (1955), the first American edition of John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1964), Mario Puzo's The Godfather (1969), William Golding's Lord of the Flies (1962), and many other notable works. Recognizing the potential of mass-market paperbacks, Minton acquired Berkley Books in 1965 "and turned thrillers by Lawrence Sanders and spy novels by Len Deighton into page-turning triumphs and their authors into household names."

Noting that he "was perhaps best known for books that challenged the nation's prevailing notions and legal definitions of pornography," the Times wrote that Lolita (1958), "the most notorious of them had been banned in the United States and abroad and rejected by American publishers fearing prosecution for obscenity. They also faced a gantlet of decorous critics, clergymen and anti-smut crusaders.... But it became one of the century's best sellers and faced no major legal problems." This would not be the case with John Cleland's Fannie Hill (1963) and Candy by Terry Southern & Mason Hoffenberg, which ran into substantial legal roadblocks.

Minton's family retained control of Putnam's until 1967, when it went public. The company was acquired in 1975 by MCA, which replaced Minton as president in 1978.

He enrolled at Columbia University's law school a year later, "becoming the oldest full-time student in its history," the Times wrote. After graduating in 1982 at 58, he passed the New York and New Jersey bar exams and worked for the law firm Schepisi & McLaughlin from 1983 to 1987, specializing in copyright, trademark and entertainment law.


Image of the Day: Small in the City in NYC

Canadian author/illustrator Sydney Smith was in New York City last week to celebrate his newest picture book, Small in the City (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House) being named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2019, as well as receiving the Silver Medal at the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. Smith stopped by Bank Street Bookstore on the Upper West Side to sign stock and leave his mark with an original drawing in the library. (photo: Cheryl Lew)

Road Trip: Indie Bookshops 'You Need to Visit in Hawaii'

"You don't have to be a bookworm to appreciate these locally owned treasures," Hawaii magazine noted in showcasing "8 local and independent bookshops you need to visit" while in paradise. 

Featured stores include Da Shop, Kaimuki ("hip new community bookstore, run by local publisher Bess Press"); BookEnds, Kailua ("family-run bookshop... beloved by Kailua residents"); Na Mea Hawaii, Ala Moana ("the premier spot for books on Hawaii); Talk Story Bookstore, Hanepepe ("the westernmost bookstore in the U.S."); and Kona Stories Book Store, Kailua-Kona ("focuses on Hawaiiana and keiki books").

Bookstore Display of the Day: Arcadia Books

Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wis., recently hosted an event for Jaquira Diaz, author of the memoir Ordinary Girls (Algonquin). To promote the appearance, the bookshop displayed a selection of Diaz's favorite reads.

"We were thrilled to have Lydia Jensen, one of our booksellers, interview Jaquira," wrote Arcadia co-manager and children's book buyer Nancy Baenen. "Lydia is 17 and has been a bookseller for two years. We used your interview with Jaquira in last week's SA Pro to make a display of books that have influenced her and books on her TBR list. We were very proud and honored to host Jaquira and to spread the word about her very important memoir."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Julie Andrews on the Talk

The Talk: Julie Andrews, co-author of Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30, 9780316349253).

Late Late Show with James Corden repeat: Jonathan Van Ness, author of Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062906373).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Miami Book Fair

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, November 23
11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Live coverage of the 2019 Miami Book Fair. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.) Highlights include:

  • 11 a.m. Mitch Landrieu, author of In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History (Penguin Books, $16, 9780525559467).
  • 12 p.m. Senator Tom Cotton, author of Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062863157).
  • 1 p.m. Susan Rice, author of Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501189975).
  • 1:45 p.m. Open phones with Patrick Deneen, author of Why Liberalism Failed (Yale University Press, $18, 9780300240023).
  • 2:25 p.m. Open phones with Megan Phelps-Roper, author of Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374275839).
  • 3 p.m. Rick Atkinson, author of The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (Holt, $40, 9781627790437).
  • 4 p.m. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist (One World, $27, 9780525509288).
  • 5:30 p.m. Karine Jean-Pierre, author of Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America (Hanover Square Press, $26.99, 9781335917836).

7:45 p.m. David Silverman, author of This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving (Bloomsbury, $32, 9781632869241).

8:55 p.m. John Kasich, author of It's Up to Us: Ten Little Ways We Can Bring About Big Change (Hanover Square Press, $19.99, 9781335012203). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:45 p.m.)

11 p.m. Ryan Manion and Heather Kelly, co-authors of The Knock at the Door: Three Gold Star Families Bonded by Grief and Purpose (Center Street, $28, 9781546085232), at Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, Pa. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

Sunday, November 24
10:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Continued coverage of the Miami Book Fair. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.) Highlights include:

  • 10:30 a.m. Open phones with Richard Stengel, author of Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It (Atlantic Monthly Press, $28, 9781476772202).
  • 12:30 p.m. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 9780374280000).
  • 2:45 p.m. Open phones with David Maraniss, author of A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501178375).
  • 3:25 p.m. Open phones with Eleanor Randolph, author of The Many Lives of Michael Bloomberg (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476772202).
  • 5 p.m. Philip Mudd, author of Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World (Liveright, $27.95, 9781631491979).

7:50 p.m. Karen Armstrong, author of The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts (Knopf, $35, 9780451494863).

10 p.m. Coverage of the 70th annual National Book Awards in New York City.

Books & Authors

Awards: Foyles Winners; Baillie Gifford Nonfiction Winner; Grammy Nominees

Foyles Bookshops in the U.K. has named its three 2019 Books of the Year:

Fiction: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press), which the store described as "An intimate novel of a man's unburdening as he wrestles with sexual discovery, family tradition, and the ghosts of the Vietnam War."

Nonfiction: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Avid Reader Press/S&S). "A modern masterpiece of narrative non-fiction that opens up the sexual and psychological lives of three contemporary American women."

Children's Book: The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (S&S Books for Young Readers). "A thrilling middle grade adventure where four talented misfits discover friendship, courage and a sense of what's right."


Hallie Rubenhold won the £50,000 (about $64,155) Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction for The Five: The Untold Lives of Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. Chair of the judges Stig Abell said the book "seemed to synthesize all that we were looking for in a winner, indeed in any great book: at a simple level, it was beautifully written and impressively researched; and more broadly it spoke with an urgency and passion to our own times. Brilliance meeting relevance. It is a book we would all give to a friend for Christmas, knowing that they will have finished it with pleasure by New Year's Day."

Mark Urquhart, partner at Baillie Gifford, commented: "The quality and variety of the shortlist is remarkable--challenging our political, social and historical perspectives and expanding our understanding of the world. Nonfiction writing is in a great place and we are proud to support this important literary award. Congratulations to Hallie Rubenhold. Reading her extraordinary book or any of the books shortlisted is time well spent."


Among the nominations for the 2020 Grammy Awards, which will be held January 26, are some book-related ones. In the Best Spoken Word Album (which includes poetry, audiobooks & storytelling) category:

Beastie Boys Book by Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, narrated by the authors and various artists (Random House Audio)
Becoming by Michelle Obama (Random House Audio)
Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder by John Waters (Macmillan Audio)
I.V. Catatonia: 20 Years as a Two-Time Cancer Survivor by Eric Alexandrakis
Sekou Andrews & The String Theory by Sekou Andrews & The String Theory

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 26:

Under Occupation: A Novel by Alan Furst (Random House, $27, 9780399592300) follows a novelist in Paris during World War II who becomes unexpectedly involved with the French Resistance.

The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250123039) is book three in the Chronicles of the One fantasy series.

Spy: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28.99, 9780399179440) follows a young woman spy during World War II.

Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds that Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson and Kevin O'Malley (Bloomsbury, $21.99, 9781681197791) is an offbeat history of secret World War II missions for middle grade readers.

Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch (Random House, $30, 9780593134153) gives an inside look at the creation of the "pee tape" report.

The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire by Francesca Cartier Brickell (Ballantine, $35, 9780525621614) gives a history of the Cartier jeweler family from one of their descendants.

The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be by Thomas Lynch (Norton, $27.95, 9781324003977) collects essays on mortality by an undertaker.

The Gentleman's Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee (HarperCollins/Tegen, $14.99, 9780062967169) is a companion novella to the author's Montague Siblings series.

Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump by Neal Katyal with Sam Koppelman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99, 9780358391173) is by the law professor, Supreme Court lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General.

Into the Dark by Karen Rose (Berkley, $7.99, 9781984805287).

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt (MIRA, $16.99, 9780778309222).

DASH for Weight Loss: An Easy-to-Follow Plan for Losing Weight, Increasing Energy, and Lowering Blood Pressure by Jennifer Koslo (Harmony, $22, 9781984824875).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Revisioners: A Novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counterpoint, $25, 9781640092587). "Set in 1855, 1924, and 2017, this story features Ava, a modern single mother and divorcee who, down on her luck, moves in as a caretaker for her grandmother, whose lingering racism becomes more pronounced as her mind begins to fail. Also told is the story of Ava's grandmother's great-grandmother, Josephine, who is a slave as a child and later in life the widowed owner of a 300-acre farm. Ava and Josephine both have the ability to 'revision,' seeing into others' souls and guiding them to a different place. Sexton does a beautiful job of developing her characters while accurately describing the racism that is never far away no matter the time period. This story is loving and devastating in the best way." --Todd Miller, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wis.

The Deep: A Novella by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes (Gallery/Saga Press, $19.99, 9781534439863). "Solomon is perfectly suited to expand the concept of a civilization of merfolk whose origins were born in the violence of pregnant African women sent to the depths from the vessels of white slave traders. The Deep focuses on Yetu, whose role as historian is to be individually burdened with six centuries of memories of all the wajinru (merfolk), and the consequences when she abdicates her responsibility. With shades of Hans Christian Andersen, Ursula Le Guin, and Lois Lowry, plus inimitable explorations of difficult social interrelationships, Solomon's short tome is, indeed, a deep read." --Maryelizabeth Yturralde, Creating Conversations, Redondo Beach, Calif.

The Weight of a Piano: A Novel by Chris Cander (Vintage, $16, 9780525563587). "A hulking black piano of Russian origin links the stories of two women: Katya, who must leave behind her beloved instrument when she immigrates to the U.S., and Clara, who is forced to sell her family heirloom when she loses her boyfriend and her home. The obsessive love each woman holds for the piano unfolds as the instrument journeys across continents. Chris Cander has crafted a novel of compelling beauty and characters who are complex, deeply flawed, and magnificently haunting." --Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, Minn.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illus. by Lucy Ruth Cummins (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062741578). "The Love Letter is a cozy story full of love and friendship and illustrated in soft hues. When Hedgehog finds a love letter, it brightens his mood and fills him with eagerness to be helpful and kind. When he drops it, Bunny finds it and the cycle repeats. This book shows that a little kindness and a little love can make a big, big change." --Miranda Atkins, A Little Bookish, Ooltewah, Tenn.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 9781250202864). "It's impossible not to love this story full of heart and a touch of magical realism. Foster kid Ruby wants nothing more than for her mom to overcome her addiction and act like a real mother. After some time, she learns to trust the Grooves, her foster parents, and grows attached to the giant tortoise in their petting zoo. As Ruby struggles to cross off all the impossible things from a list she and her late grandmother made, she learns the true meaning of family. A beautiful, forceful book. Ruby will bowl you over." --Jennifer Kraar, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.

For Teen Readers
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (Wednesday Books, $16.99, 9781250145444). "Liggett combines a dystopian society with a horrific survivor story and a dark fairy tale in The Grace Year. Young girls are believed to be magic, so they are forced into exile for their 16th year in order to release their powers. After their year away, they are expected to come back ready for a docile home life. But not all of them come home alive, and many come home changed. Liggett's story is haunting and lyrical, an intriguing page-turner filled with love, brutality, violence, and hope." --Scott Lange, The Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: And Then We Grew Up

And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood by Rachel Friedman (Penguin Books, $17 paperback, 256p., 9780143132127, December 31, 2019)

There are plenty of books about people who follow their artistic dreams to glory. Rachel Friedman asks, "How about some books where we focus on gracefully giving up on something?" And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood is a fine specimen of the sort.

The book evolved out of Friedman's disappointment that she hasn't reached a level of financial solvency in her chosen creative field; even after she became a published author--her first book was the travel memoir The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost--she had to take a part-time job as a managing editor to make ends meet. She wanted to know if her disillusionment is shared by others who, like her, fully intended to earn a living as an artist.

Friedman had a ready-made subject sample: her cohort of 20-odd years earlier at Interlochen, the fabled Michigan performing arts camp where she studied viola. In college, she felt as though she had hit a creative wall as a musician and stopped playing. She has wondered ever since if this was a mistake. Friedman tracked down some of her fellow campers to learn if they were still reaching for the stars and to what extent they had accepted compromise--and in And Then We Grew Up, "compromise" is usually a gentler way of saying "day job."

Friedman devotes a chapter to each of the eight now-adult Interlochenites whom she interviews. There's Daniel, an actor who transitioned to screenwriting and then took a job as a creative director at a Los Angeles special effects studio ("I really was sick of not seeing the things that I had written get made"). There's Jenna, a violin prodigy who is now a high school orchestra teacher ("Look, I've always been idealistic but realistic"). Friedman supplements their stories with elucidating findings from her dogged research into areas like the science of expertise and the weird way that creativity has been hijacked by capitalism ("Unleash the creative entrepreneur inside you!").

As it happens, someone profiled in And Then We Grew Up really, truly made it: when Friedman catches up with Michelle, she's a violist with the Oregon Symphony. And yet Michelle is thinking about switching careers: "I love playing, but I can see myself doing other things. I'm actually slowly trying to transition into arts management." If Friedman does a face-palm at the thought of how many people are in arts management because they failed their audition with the Oregon Symphony, she's too grown-up to say so. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: In this amiable look at the state of the artist, the author tracks down the people with whom she attended a performing arts camp 20 years earlier.

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