Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Katie Henry

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Katie Henry

Katie Henry is a writer living and working in New York City. She received her BFA in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a published playwright, specializing in theater for young audiences. Her plays have been performed by high schools and community organizations in over thirty states. Heretics Anonymous is her first novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

When I was a kid, I preferred books about boys.

Not that I didn’t read books about girls, because I did. I read everything. I read books about boys and girls and vampire rabbits. I read the backs of shampoo bottles. I read the parenting guides on my parents’ bookshelf, hoping to use the techniques inside to beat them at their own game. Seriously.

But I preferred books about boys. Then, I would have said it was because they were more “fun.” Now, I realize it was because with those books, I didn’t have to think about girlhood. Male protagonists could be funny without seeming immature, snarky without seeming angry, self-centered without seeming unlikable. Boys seemed to move through the world differently, even fictional worlds, and it fascinated me. I liked books about boys because it was the closest I could come to living like one.

In seventh grade, I picked a book off the shelf of my school library. I can’t remember why I chose it. Maybe it was the name. Catherine, Called Birdy. I was a Catherine, too, just called Katie. Or maybe, somehow I knew Birdy and I shared more than our baptismal names. The more I read, the more the more I felt like Birdy – funny, sharp, unapologetically herself – was me on my very best day. We were both Catholic girls with the same affinity for the weirdest, most violent saint stories. We were both willing to ruin just about anything for a good enough joke. And we were both, for our time and place, immensely lucky and privileged. Of course, there were differences between us, too. For one thing, Birdy lives in 1290, the year Eleanor of Castile died. I lived in 2003, the year that guy from Kindergarten Cop was elected governor of California. Birdy’s biggest concern is escaping her arranged marriage to a horrible oaf. My parents were lovely, supportive people who, as far as I knew, were not preparing to sell me to a middle-aged man.

But still, I saw myself in Birdy’s fury over her complex, vibrant soul being squashed in favor of her worth as a pretty, silent thing a man could possess. I was twelve, and all of a sudden, there were ways I shouldn’t walk, clothes I couldn’t wear, new things I had to be afraid of. All of a sudden, there was my teacher telling me my t-shirt rode up too high when I raised my hand. A man trying to coax me into his car as I waited alone at a bus stop. A boy in my math class telling me I was the “least hot” girl in seventh grade and then immediately trying to grab my least-hot-in-seventh-grade breast. Every single time, I felt that hot wash of humiliation and shame that comes from realizing your body isn’t your own.

Birdy isn’t ever ashamed. She’s forthright and preternaturally wise, able to place blame where it’s really due. She blames her father for selling her like a basket of apples, her mother for allowing it, and the world around her for treating this system as both just and inevitable. Birdy wants more for her life. She wants to be a songmaker, or a wart charmer, or a cross-dressing monk, depending on the day. “You are so much already, Little Bird,” her mother tells her. “Why not cease your fearful pounding against the bars of your cage and be content?” I nearly threw the book across the room. I was angry for Birdy, angry with her. Who wouldn’t throw themselves against something locking them in? Who wouldn’t try to escape a cage, if they knew they were in one?

In the end, Birdy decides that, “I am who I am wherever I am.” Her choices might be limited, and her life might not be the one she’d pick for herself, but she will use all her determination and courage to make it the best one she can. Her wings have been clipped by forces far beyond her control, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try to fly, anyway. Her life feels caged in, but that doesn’t mean the door won’t ever be open. It wasn’t a happy ending, I thought as I closed the book. But it was true, and that felt more important. Birdy had grown up, and made compromises, but it didn’t dampen her spirit. My problems weren’t nearly as big as hers, and my universe was far less limited. If she could channel all her anger and yearning into that fierce kind of hope, I could do it, too. 

Like Birdy, I couldn’t be anyone but myself. Like Birdy, I was born into an imperfect world. And though I sometimes fantasized about starting a one-girl/many-pets compound in the woods, I eventually realized that the hermit life wasn’t for me. Birdy helped me see that it was possible to live in an often unfair, confining world without making yourself smaller to fit it. In the fifteen years since I first read Catherine Called Birdy, I’ve lived the kind of life that Birdy wanted, that so many of my ancestors must have wanted, one of freedom, and adventures, and possibilities. I like to think Birdy was with me, every step of the way.

Girlhood can so often be a cage. But sometimes, it can be an open blue sky.

Title Heretics Anonymous
Author Katie Henry
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date August 7th 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s — a strict Catholic school — sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic…she wants to be a priest.

But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far — putting the other Heretics at risk — he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

Cover Reveal: Nick and June Were Here by Shalanda Stanley

The cover reveals continue on Pop! Goes The Reader today as I’m thrilled to welcome author Shalanda Stanley to the blog as we reveal the cover of her sophomore release, Nick and June Were Here! Coming to a bookstore and library near you February 12 2019 from Knopf BFYR, Nick and June Were Here is a young adult contemporary novel that follows the story of teenagers Nick and June, who run away together after their deep but tenuous romantic connection is threatened by forces outside their control. The cover of Nick and June Were Here was designed by Casey Moses and Regina Flath. Please read on to learn more about Nick and June Were Here, including a note from the author, an exclusive excerpt from the novel, and an opportunity for one lucky reader to win an advance reader copy!

About Shalanda Stanley

Shalanda Stanley grew up in Louisiana and earned her BA in Creative Writing at Florida State University. She has an M.Ed in Special Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a PhD from Louisiana State University in Curriculum & Instruction, with a focus in Literacy & Reading Education. She’s an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe in the School of Education. Her debut novel, Drowning Is Inevitable, published in September 2015, from Knopf Books For Young Readers. Nick and June Were Here is her second novel, also from Knopf BFYR and will be available February 12, 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

This is the book I was scared to write. I’ve always wanted to write a love story, but I didn’t expect it to become so personal. There are pieces of my life and my family’s life that have been woven into the fabric of Nick and June’s characters, that makes me equally excited and terrified to share it with readers. I understand Nick and his motivations. I understand his family and their poverty, how poverty defines his choices, the fear that you will not overcome it, that even if you do, that it will somehow find you again. I understand June’s spirit and her fear of all things she cannot control. I love her with my whole heart. It was my goal with June to present her as someone whose diagnosis is a part of her life, but show that her life is not defined by it. I hope that I achieved that.

Working on this book was my greatest writing challenge to date, as it slowly became the book of my heart. I took a lot of time, like years, to make this book the best I could make it and I’m so grateful for my publishers for giving me the chance to start over and start over and start over again. I hope readers love Nick and June as much as I do.

A year ago, things had changed between us. One day, every time I looked up, he was looking back at me, and then I caught him drawing my face in the margins of his history notebook. He drew all the time, but he’d never drawn me before. When I asked him about it, he said, “I just feel better when I’m looking at you.”

His dad had gone to prison two years earlier and Nick had been sad ever since, so I was glad something was making him feel better. We started spending more and more time together, just the two of us. He’d come over and we’d sit on my porch swing. My parents didn’t know what to think of it, so I’d bring a textbook outside with me. We could all pretend it was just homework. Nick would even ask me a question or two. At first we sat on opposite ends of the swing, but every day he’d sit a little closer, until we sat so close that our legs touched. Once he pulled a sucker from his pocket. It was root-beer-flavored, our favorite, but there was only one. We shared it, back and forth from his mouth to mine. That was how things changed between us. It was a few gained inches on a front-porch swing and that sucker. He told me things he’d never told anyone, the kinds of things you’d confess only in the dark. It was a powerful feeling, and I was addicted.

Title Nick and June Were Here
Author Shalanda Stanley
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
To Be Published February 12 2019 by Knopf BFYR
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChapters

Nick and June are in love.

In a small town by the Ozarks, Nick and June hang out in an abandoned barn, dreaming of the future while Nick finger-paints blackbirds all over June’s body. If only things could stay so perfect forever. Outside of the barn, they have to face their problems head on.

June has schizophrenia and is coping with the recent diagnosis while managing her symptoms, her medications, and her parents. Nick is a reluctant car thief, supporting his aunt with the money and focusing on his art whenever he can. But when June lands in the hospital and Nick might go to prison, the two decide to leave it all behind and run away together. Out on the road, trying to stay hidden while managing June’s new medication, how far can they get on love alone?

This emotionally driven story will make you think twice about what you would give up for love, even if it’s a piece of yourself.

As an extra, exciting bonus, Shalanda has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win an advance reader copy of Nick and June Were Here! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Shalanda when ARCs become available. This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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New Kids On The Block 2018 with Samantha M. Clark

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at Jen@PopGoesTheReader.com. I would love to collaborate with you!

About Samantha M. Clark

Samantha M Clark is the author of The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster) and has always loved stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. After all, if four ordinary brothers and sisters can find a magical world at the back of a wardrobe, why can’t she? While she looks for her real-life Narnia, she writes about other ordinary children and teens who’ve stumbled into a wardrobe of their own. In a past life, Samantha was a photojournalist and managing editor for newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband and two kooky dogs in Austin, Texas. Samantha is the Regional Advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and explores wardrobes every chance she gets.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

When Are We Enough (Or How I Learned to Live With It)

A few weeks ago, it was my husband’s birthday and I wanted to make him a nice roast. I couldn’t find the type of roast I usually cooked, so I bought something different, found a fantastic recipe and got to work. But as the meal got closer to being finished, I realized it wasn’t coming out as I had planned. And the thoughts that always hit me when this happens — I can’t do it; I’m a failure; I’m not good enough — slammed into my brain.

Feelings of inadequacy have been part of my life as long as I can remember. I was a shy, only child who was stuffed full of fear. It didn’t stop me from trying or even achieving; it just stopped me from truly believing in myself. I had a big imagination, and if I could imagine myself winning at something, I could also imagine myself failing. The failing was the easiest to believe.

Stories were my savior, though. In books, I could imagine I was all the characters who accomplished things at the end: smart Nancy Drew who could solve any crime, the resourceful Little Women, the trusting Lucy and her siblings as they battled the White Witch in Narnia. These children were afraid, but they believed and didn’t let fear stop them. As I grew older, I held them close to my hearts and soon wanted to create similar characters of my own.

But that fear of failing plagued me, so it shouldn’t surprise me that it ended up the theme of my debut novel, The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast.

In the book, a boy wakes alone on a mysterious beach with no memory of who he is or how he got there. All he has for company is a voice in his head, an inner bully, that tells him he’s not loved and is too scared to find his way home.

I didn’t set out to write a story about fear and doubt, but when I got to the end of the first draft and the boy’s purpose made itself clear, I understood why this story had come to me.

I’m not alone in these feelings. In her TEDx Talk from 2013, UC Davis Social Psychologist Alison Ledgerwood discusses how people tend to focus on the negative. She recommends we look at the positive parts of our lives to re-train our brains. I think this is great advice, but often, my inner bully won’t allow me to see positives.

That happened a lot while I was working on The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast. The structure of the book is unusual, the characters minimal, the language deliberately paced, the novel was unlike any other I had written before, and it terrified me. Still, no matter how many times I thought I couldn’t make the story on paper as good as the one in my head, or how often I thought that no one would ever publish it, I couldn’t let the boy down. He had an inner bully as mean and horrible as mine, and I had to find a way to silence it.

Here are some of things that helped:

Hope – When my inner bully told me I couldn’t write the book, it was very easy to give up. After all, if I was going to fail, what was the point in continuing? But the story would not leave me alone, and that gave me a thread of hope. Hope is a very powerful thing. It can buoy someone through the toughest times. I believe it’s when we lose hope that we truly give up. So when my brain told me I wasn’t good enough, I held onto my hope. Even if I wasn’t good enough, perhaps I could at least be good.

Hope is like your super power; it will feed you when times are tough. No matter how bad things get, hold onto hope, even the smallest piece, and it will lead you through.

Focus – My feelings of inadequacy ruled a lot of my thinking during my journey to publication. Every rejection seemed like a stamp of approval for every time I’d thought I couldn’t do it, and I got a LOT of rejections. Eventually, though, I changed my focus. Instead of focusing on the goal of publication, I focused on the goal of writing the best book I could write. And by that, I mean the best book I could write. (Think of the “I” here in bold italics and three times as big – that’s how important it is.) Comparisons with others fuel self-doubt like oxygen to a fire, so I had to recognize that my journey was just that – my journey.

Focus on what you can control – your work – and let the lives of others be theirs, not yours.

Faith – My faith tells me I should trust that God will take care of me; I do the work and leave the rest up to God. It’s wonderful to think that I can give all my worries to God and concentrate on living, but it’s not the easiest thing to do. Worries fester, and even if I manage to push them away once, they weasel their way back in. But I’ve found that the more I do put my worries into God’s hands, the happier I am, the more I’m able to accomplish, and the less I doubt myself.

No matter whether you believe in God (or some kind of higher power) or think this life is all there is, try giving your worries to something else. Write them on a strip of paper and put them into a jar, knowing that they’ll be there if you ever need them. (Trust me, you won’t.) It’s amazing how lighter you can be with fewer worries dragging you down.

Accept – A big part of my self doubt comes from thinking I need to be a certain way: prettier, smarter, luckier, faster… But accepting who I am, flaws and all, goes a long way toward silencing my inner bully. The saying that “nobody’s perfect” is true, and there’s no use trying to be; even saints have flaws. Our imperfections and how we rise above them are what make us courageous, and more interesting.

Next time you start to doubt yourself or think you need to be more (fill in the blank), think of the good things about yourself. Sometimes this will be hard. If I fall too deep into a bout of self-doubt, my flaws loom larger and larger. Breathe, relax, take a minute to look at nature, then think again. Repeat as necessary.

In The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast, the boy must face his fears and conquer his inner bully. Writing his story, I had to learn to believe in myself too, that I was enough.

If you’ve got an inner bully, or you know a kid with one, download the Make Your Own Courage Art Therapy program for Caregivers on my website. Designed by myself and author and clinical therapist Bonnie Thomas LCSW, the Make Your Own Courage Art Therapy Project has fun thoughts and exercises to help people find comfort and confidence just like the boy in The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast.

Title The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast
Author Samantha M. Clark
Pages 256 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Fantasy
Publication Date June 26th 2018 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

The Graveyard Book meets Hatchet in this eerie novel about a boy who is stranded on a mysterious beach, from debut author Samantha M. Clark.

A boy washes up on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited beach. Who is he? How did he get there? The boy can’t remember. When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy’s journey is a struggle for survival and a search for the truth — a terrifying truth that once uncovered, will force him to face his greatest fear of all if he is to go home.

This gripping adventure will have readers hooked until its jaw-dropping and moving conclusion. Samantha M. Clark’s first novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.

Cover Reveal: Summer Of A Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

Happy Monday, friends! We’ll be taking a bit of a break from the Her Story: Ladies In Literature series as Pop! Goes The Reader has been asked to host three cover reveals this week! I could not be more excited to kick things off today with a book I’m dying to read, as I welcome Margaret Dilloway to the blog to share the exclusive cover reveal for her forthcoming middle grade release, Summer Of A Thousand Pies! Coming to a bookstore and library near you February 26th 2019 from Balzer + Bray, Summer Of A Thousand Pies tells the story of twelve-year-old Cady Bennett, who is sent to live with her aunt in the countryside after her father is sent to jail and eventually discovers how to make pies – and friends! The cover of Summer Of A Thousand Pies was designed by Jessie Gang and the accompanying art was created by Kate Daisy. Please read on to learn more about Summer Of A Thousand Pies, including an opportunity for US readers to win an advance reader copy of the novel!

About Margaret Dilloway

Margaret Dilloway is the author of critically acclaimed middle grade and women’s fiction. She won the Asian/Pacific Librarians Honor Award for Xander and The Lost Island of Monsters. Summer Of A Thousand Pies is her third middle grade novel. A descendant of samurai and coal miners, Dilloway lives in San Diego with her husband, three children, and Gatsby, the goofy Goldendoodle. In her spare time, she enjoys performing improv, mad scientist baking experiments, and hiking.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Title Summer Of A Thousand Pies
Author Margaret Dilloway
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Contemporary
To Be Published February 26th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
Find It On Goodreads

When twelve-year-old Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she doesn’t know what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad.

Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop — and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs. Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix?

Summer Of A Thousand Pies is a sweet and satisfying treat of a novel, full of friendship, family, and, of course, pie.

As an extra, exciting bonus, Margaret has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win an advance reader copy of Summer Of A Thousand Pies! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Margaret when ARCs become available. This contest is open to residents of the US. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Christine Lynn Herman

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Christine Lynn Herman

Born in New York City but raised in Japan and Hong Kong, Christine Lynn Herman subscribes to the firm philosophy that home is where her books are. She returned to the United States for college, where she traded out a subtropical climate for harsh, snowy winters and an Honors English degree at the University of Rochester. She now resides in Brooklyn, where she works in publishing by day and writes novels by night. Her debut YA novel, The Devouring Gray, will release from Disney-Hyperion in Spring 2019, with a sequel to come the following year.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

I was born frightened – not for myself, but for the people around me. As a baby, I cried whenever my parents left the room; as a child, I clung to my younger siblings constantly, terrified that if I turned my back, something would happen to them. That I would blink and they would disappear.

By the time I was eight, fear was my oldest friend, my second skin. It was the star of my night terrors, the motivation behind everything I did, everything I was. It was unbearable, and yet I could not imagine my life without it. I could not fathom a day where I didn’t check the locks on every door and window in the house three or four times, or a night where I didn’t wake up at 2 AM and check on my whole family, just to make sure they were still breathing.

I could not fathom that, perhaps, there was another word for what I felt besides fear. That there was anything I could do to make it stop.

My refuge was books, especially fantasy books – ones where girls and boys went on quests and saw magical creatures, where they discovered that they were special and important.

They were always effortlessly brave in those books. Fighting monsters and rescuing people in peril, saving kingdoms and worlds like it was no big deal. Any obstacle they faced was destroyed. Any fear they felt was vanquished by internal strength, and that was the real magic of those stories: not that they could cast a spell or fly, but that they had the courage to go on an adventure at all.

Deep down, I wanted an adventure of my own. But I’d resigned myself to only living through stories. I knew I’d never make it in the real world – I could barely leave my house. Sometimes, I couldn’t even leave my bed.

Then I read The Two Princesses Of Bamarre for the first time. I met Addie.

And for the first time, the stories that were so important to me and the terror that had defined my childhood collided.

Addie was a princess, a sister, smart and caring, and yet her world was defined by fear, too. A disease called the Gray Death could take away the people she loved at a moment’s notice. A bevy of monsters plagued her kingdom; gryphons and dragons, specters and ogres. But her biggest demons came from her own mind.

Here, finally, was a character who suffered like I suffered. Who wanted to hide in her room and work on her embroidery instead of swing a sword, who was desperate to keep her existence small and safe. Who clung to the people she loved most because she couldn’t bear to lose them.

And she was miserable. Just as miserable as I was.

Through Addie, I saw for the first time how much of the world had become inaccessible to me. And I saw, too, that just like her, there was only one thing that I loved more than I feared everything – my family. So it hit me like a gut punch when Addie’s beloved sister, Meryl, fell ill with the Gray Death. When she ventured out on her own quest because it was the only way to save her. Every step she took on her quest, I took alongside her. I wanted her to succeed so badly – because I wanted proof that I could get better. Because if Addie could do it, I could do it, too.

But here’s the thing about The Two Princesses Of Bamarre: it doesn’t have a happy ending. Instead, it introduces the reader to consequences. Meryl’s illness is not magically cured. Addie’s newfound bravery helps her to a certain point, but it doesn’t fix everything. The first time I finished it, I felt betrayed beyond measure. I sobbed. I hurled the book at the wall.

Then I picked the book up off the floor, and I read the last few chapters again. And I understood.

Addie and Meryl’s ending is bittersweet because life is bittersweet. Because illnesses cannot always be cured. Because the point of Addie’s character arc wasn’t that if she put herself out in the world, everything would be okay – it was that both her and Meryl had to learn to make the best of the choices they’d been given. Even when they weren’t fair.

If she could learn how to handle life, even when it was unfair, and frightening, and cruel, then I could learn that, too.

It’s been sixteen years since I first met Addie, and I carry her story with me every day. I have words for my fear now, words like anxiety and depression, and I talk about them instead of keeping them inside – with medical professionals and friends alike. I have learned that I cannot control the world; that I will drive myself to dark places if I try. That I am stronger and braver than I thought I was.

And when I have faced down my own tough choices, when I have felt the impossible cruelty of existence bearing down on me, I think of Addie and Meryl, accepting the hands that life has dealt them.

And I take the next step on my adventure, finally focused on enjoying my journey instead of worrying about a happy ending.

Title The Devouring Gray
Author Christine Lynn Herman
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary Fantasy
Publication Date Spring 2019 by Disney-Hyperion
Find It On Goodreads

After the death of her older sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to the hometown her mother fled thirty years ago. Violet may be new to Four Paths, New York, but she soon learns her family isn’t. They’re one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods. 

As a descendant of a founding family, Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations. Their special abilities guard the town from the Gray, a lifeless dimension that lures unsuspecting prey to the brutal monster trapped inside. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret and banish him from Four Paths once he graduates high school. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

When Violet accidentally wanders into the Gray and unleashes the monster, Justin believes helping her is his last chance to prove he belongs in Four Paths. They must band together with the other descendants of the town’s founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities in order to defeat the monster…before the Gray devours them all.