Friday, February 2, 2018

In the Stack, On the Page, On the Road

The other day I posted this picture on Facebook:
What's in your stack?

 It’s my current reading/just finished/next in the queue stack, and it elicited an exciting round of comments and book suggestions. (Yes: I’m one of those dorks who find a reading suggestion “exciting.”)

I have a strong love/hate relationship with Facebook and social media in general but if I can use it to promote books and authors and learn about great reads then, I’m in. So, at my sister’s suggestion, I’m going to post a monthly What’s In The Stack update to see what you all are reading and share what I’ve enjoyed. You’ll find it here on the blog, and also on my Facebook and Instagram pages.

My latest love is the young adult novel “Disappeared,” by Francisco Stork. It’s set in Juarez, Mexico, and is the story of two young people (a brother, Emiliano, and sister, Sara) trying to navigate the deadly violence of that city. It’s about choices, values, survival, friendship, and love. Yes, all the biggies. But in Francisco’s capable hands, all is possible.

 Okay, so now please imagine I’m standing on top of a high building yelling: “READ THIS BOOK! GIVE IT TO YOUR TEENAGERS!!”

Fiction begins with character. Great fiction is routed in the empathy an author has for a character, and conveys, dramatically, on the page. In all his novels (and if you haven’t read them, I encourage you to visit the website link provided above and at the very least read “Marcelo in the Real World” because it’s all of the wonderful) Francisco inhabits the beating hearts of his characters, and as a result Emiliano and Sara’s wrenching choices come alive for us.

I won’t spoil this book by saying too much except to add: we cannot engage in our nation’s current debate about immigration/the Wall/deportations without fully understanding all the complexities which would prompt families to risk their lives crossing a desert in order to come to the U.S. “Disappeared” gives us a snapshot of very real people negotiating a very dangerous world, and it’s a timely, important book that could spark great conversations among teens.

Okay, meanwhile, it’s been cold and snowy here in Maine which I love because 1. It’s much more fun to snap on the cross country skis and head out to the trails with the dog instead of trudging along salt-and-silt-strewn roads for her daily walk, and 2. I’m on deadline for a new novel and these days are THE BEST for staying indoors and writing. Think: woodstove. Coffee. The silence of snow.
View from my office window 2/2/18

 And speaking of writing: Algonquin Young Readers has contracted with me for a new novel! I’m guessing it’ll be out in 2019 … ? I’m thrilled/so happy/incredibly blessed to 1. Have a wonderful agent, Edite Kroll, who connected me with Algonquin and 2. be working once again with the Algonquin crew, esp. editor Kristina Lypen. That’s all I’ll say for now because this WIP doesn’t even have a final title yet …
When I'm not traveling for book talks, this is my schedule from now until June 1st.

 FINALLY, speaking of snow: next week I’ll probably be grousing about it, because I’m hitting the road and heading to magical Mt. Desert Island for a book talk in Bar Harbor and school visit at MDI High, all thanks to the fabulous Island Readers and Writers. If you’re in the area, please stop by!

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