Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Kelly Loy Gilbert

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-four 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 Kelly Loy Gilbert

Kelly Loy Gilbert is the author of Conviction (Disney-Hyperion, 2015) and Nothing Gold Can Stay (2016). She serves on the NaNoWriMo Associate Board, is a fan of diverse books, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookTumblrInstagramGoodreads

I’ve always been very drawn to the stories of young people. I think it’s a time in your life when the intensity of your feelings is as strong as anyone else’s, but often you have less agency to change your situation. And your whole world is often compact and pressurized in a way that adult worlds aren’t – no matter what happens in high school, you still show up to face the same people, day after day.

But all throughout high school, throughout college, I read stories that happened to someone else. More often than not, they happened to men – men who went to fight in wars, men who were explorers, men who were dissatisfied with their lives, men who entered doomed romances.

Occasionally – very occasionally – stories happened to women, but when they did they tended to be specific types of women who weren’t like me. Mostly, they were older. They dealt with things like dissolving marriages and seemed totally disconnected from their younger selves.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, narrated by a high school girl named Lee Fiora, was the first book that showed me that people like me – young women, women who hadn’t attained whatever seriousness or worthiness adulthood would presumably someday bestow on us – could be taken seriously as a subject of stories.

In Prep, Lee, a quiet, intensely introspective, slightly socially awkward lower-middle-class Midwesterner, leaves her home to attend a staggeringly wealthy East Coast boarding school called Ault. And really, not very much ‘happens,’ by some standards – she goes to classes, she deals with complicated family dynamics, she navigates the complicated world of high school friendships. She develops consuming feelings for a classmate.

But in all this mundanity, I found for the first time a reflection of so many things I could relate to: what it’s like to be in a friendship that doesn’t feel equal. To fall for someone you worry is too good for you. To obsess over every small thing someone says to you. To notice and feel trapped in the world a way no one else around you seems to. Lee’s world was so finely wrought, so beautifully crafted – so blazingly real – that it was the first time I read a book that felt like it had been written by someone who understood particular, important parts of me.

I love Lee Fiora for her brutal honesty – Prep is a book you read cringing, because it seems like she’s peeled back the outer layers of you and peered into all those small, base observations you’d never tell anyone. I love that she doesn’t shy away from the uglier parts of herself. I love that she’s faithful.

And most of all I love that, as an adult narrator, she looks back at her teenage years with some distance, yes, but mostly with compassion and wisdom and respect. They were real to her when she lived them, and they remain real to her now.

Title Conviction
Author Kelly Loy Gilbert
Pages 352 Pages
Genre Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Religion
Publisher Disney-Hyperion
To Be Published May 19th, 2015
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch al- ready has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

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