New Kids On The Block 2018 with Ashley Woodfolk

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 Ashley Woodfolk

Ashley Woodfolk has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and works in children’s book publishing. She writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment, where she lives with her cute husband and her cuter dog. The Beauty That Remains is her debut novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramTumblrGoodreads


Loss is one of those universal experiences that everyone goes through but no one likes to talk about.

At least that’s the way it’s always been in my family.

Whenever a beloved is lost in my family, we don’t really talk about that person anymore. The more beloved the person was, the more silence surrounds their passing, or I should say, their absence if the loss of them it isn’t due to death. Maybe this isn’t so unique, (or maybe it is), but I’ve never visited any of my loved ones’ graves, or spoken at length about relatives who were incarcerated or estranged or otherwise separated from me, and neither have or do most of the people in my family. There might be a mention here or there in passing; a “she would have said this” or “he might have liked that”. But we never linger. We rarely reminisce beyond looking at photographs -never with stories or memories; wishes or regrets or dreams.

There’s a part of me that would love to be able to call my mother or father and speak at length about someone we both once loved, but I know that if I tried to the subject would quickly be changed. I know that they’d question why I wanted to speak about the past, and I know that I wouldn’t have the strength to continue once I was challenged or refused the opportunity to remember. Because that’s what it takes to talk about the hard things: a brawny kind of bravery.

And because this has been how my family deals (or rather avoids) loss, I’ve never really learned how to cope with it, which has lead to panic attacks at my worst moments, and petty fights at my “best.” Still, the pain and fear that surrounds the various losses I’ve experienced are always there, and in some ways, I’m always hurting and scared, at least a little.

But, then I remember: there are books.

I’ve found so much catharsis in reading books about grief, sometimes even more so than I have in finding someone who was willing to listen as I talked about these things (though I’ve done A LOT of that too. Side note: Don’t sleep on therapy, people. It’s the bee’s knees.) But the books that helped me through some of my darkest times are a big part of the reason I wrote the book that I wrote – I was writing through that pain and fear. So here’s a list of some of my most favorite books on loss. (I should mention that not all of the losses in these novels are deaths. But they all handle loss as a concept really, really well and are full to bursting with hope.)

I hope they’ll help you find a little peace when you need it most.


Publication Date March 9th 2010 by Dial Books
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Adrift after her sister Bailey’s sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby — Bailey’s boyfriend who shares her grief — and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs…though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.

Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.

As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.



Publication Date February 14th 2017 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.



Publication Date March 7th 2017 by Crown Books For Young Readers
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Perfect for fans of Turtles All The Way Down, Thirteen Reasons Why, and Zentner’s own The Serpent King, one of the most highly acclaimed YA novels of 2016, Goodbye Days asks what you would do if you could spend one last day with someone you lost.

Where are you guys? Text me back. That’s the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or — even worse — prison?



Publication Date April 4th 2017 by Philomel Books
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A moving story of grief, honesty, and the healing power of art — the ties that bind us together, even when those we love are gone.

Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it’s the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.



Publication Date October 20th 2009 by Dutton Juvenile
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The award-winning first novel from the bestselling author of We Are Okay.

In the wake of her best friend Ingrid’s suicide, Caitlin is left alone, struggling to find hope and answers. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind for her, she begins a journey of understanding and broadening her horizons that leads her to new friendships and first love. Nina LaCour brings the changing seasons of Caitlin’s first year without Ingrid to life with emotion, honesty, and captivating writing.



Publication Date September 16th 2014 by Dial Books
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“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways…but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing — often all at once.



Publication Date February 3rd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating straightedge Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returned home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise ― a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into a friendship and soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.



Publication Date March 8th 2016 by Crown Books for Young Readers
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Dill isn’t the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back.

But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia – neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending – one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

Title The Beauty That Remains
Author Ashley Woodfolk
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date March 6th 2018 by Delacorte Press
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Told from three diverse points of view, this story of life and love after loss is one Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, calls a “stunning, heart-wrenching look at grief that will stay with you long after you put it down.”

We’ve lost everything…and found ourselves.

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death might pull them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who’s struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

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