Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Kathleen Glasgow

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 thirty-nine 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 Kathleen Glasgow

Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel, Girl In Pieces, will be published August 30, 2016 by Delacorte. She lives in Tucson, Arizona and writes for the radio show The Writer’s Almanac. She likes Tyrion and Shireen, chocolate, her kids, and coffee.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

I’m not sure how old I was when I first picked up Zanballer, R.R. Knudson’s 1972 novel about an aggressive, mouthy, short-tempered fourteen-year-old athlete named Suzanne “Zan” Hagen, but I am sure it was the edition with the slouchy, unsmiling, sweat-shirted girl on the cover, in jeans, with a football on her hip and a football helmet slung against her shoulder.

I was a quiet kid, prone to reading as protection and escape from a volatile home life. I was also a competitive swimmer, perfect for a kid who preferred immersion above all things. No muddy fields or squeaky basketball courts for me, please. Just let me spend three hours a day in the water, my head blissfully bathed in chlorine. I wasn’t the best; that simply wasn’t possible, not with my temperament. I needed some sharp edge, some extra drive that always seemed to be missing.

I didn’t know it at the time, but just the fact that I was allowed to be on a girls swim team was revolutionary. To me, it seemed kind of normal. Right? Girls just play sports, is all.

But when I picked up Zanballer and fell head over heels in love with Zan Hagen, “the girl who would rather call the plays than lead the cheers”, I had no idea that at one time, girls weren’t encouraged, or even allowed to play sports, and if they were, they weren’t taken seriously, let alone given proper practice space, money, training, or uniforms.

Zanballer is the story of fifteen-year-old Zan Hagen, who has been practicing all summer for the start of basketball season, only to find that when she returns to decrepit old Robert E. Lee High School, the basketball court is warped and being ripped up for repair. The boys basketball team is bused to other practice facilities, but the girls….the girls are told by the chauvinistic principle that basketball is unfeminine and unnecessary and they can take a dance class instead. Something useful. Zan is not a sit-down and take-it kind of girl. I think you can see where this is going.

Suffice to say, our girl Zan organizes her friends into a rag-tag team of footballers on an unused field at Robert E. Lee, learning plays from books like Tiny Sonny: Ace Quarterback. I should say here that one of the reasons I loved Zan was that she was so, well, kind of, sometimes, well…okay: mean. She’s bossy, she’s not nice to girls who prefer to dance, or to cheerlead. For Zan, sport is everything, and she sees no reason why the girls can’t have what the boys have. And if it isn’t given to her, she’ll take it.

In 1972, the federal civil rights law Title IX was passed. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Which meant that girls, for the first time, were going to get the same opportunities as boys to play sports. In theory.

Zanballer was published the same year that Title IX was passed. Knudson wasn’t done, though. She published three more Zan novels: Zanbanger (basketball), Zanboomer (baseball), and Zan Hagen’s Marathon, which finds Zan competing against real-life marathoner Joan Benoit at the L.A. Olympics. Zan never quit, and Knudson never quit writing novels and biographies about women who played sports, most of which I devoured ten years after Title IX had passed, when the boys in my P.E. class were wearing athletic shorts and t-shirts, while the girls’ uniform was a constrictive, camel-toe-friendly red and white onesie with a zipper from crotch to neck.

One step forward, two steps back.

Title Girl In Pieces
Author Kathleen Glasgow
Pages 416 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
To Be Published August 30th, 2016 by Delacorte Press
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass of a jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. 


Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge. 


A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Nicola Yoon, best-selling author of Everything, Everything, calls Girl In Pieces “a haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.”

As an extra special bonus, Kathleen has been generous enough to offer to give away an ARC of Girl In Pieces to one lucky reader! This contest is open to U.S. residents only. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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