Meet the Dear Reader Giveaway Winners

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I knew Dear Reader was a happening place months ago, when I was invited to stand in as a guest columnist for Suzanne Beecher.  Dear Reader is where a book-reading community gets built, where book clubs find their inspiration, and where conversations gather speed and force.  For my own guest column, I wrote about the young people I've met in my time as a young adult novelist—the passions they stir and the things they teach, the many ways that I am hopeful for and with them.

It was a special opportunity, and so I did something I've never done before—offered all six of my young adult books (the seventh,the Seville-based Small Damages, won't be out until next summer) as a summer giveaway.  And oh, what a response we have had.  I've heard from school principals and librarians, grandmothers and moms, fathers and grandfathers, uncles and aunts.  I've heard from young writers and young readers, students on the verge of college and students on the verge of applying to master's degree programs.  I've received notes from all across the country and all around the world.  Many readers have asked for YA books featuring a male teen; I'm 6,000 words into writing one of those.  Many described their particular passions, their favorite books.

I had originally thought that I would give all six books to a single winner, sweepstakes style, but as I read these notes through and considered the huge volume of mail, it occurred to me that there were some very right and particular titles for some very particular readers.  Here, then, are the winners, with the lines or thoughts that triggered my own "I have just the book for them" responses.  Please know, all of you, that I read and considered and valued and had a very hard time choosing winners.  I hope you'll look for books that sound interesting to you and let me know what you think.

Undercover, my first young adult novel, about a young, Cyrano-like poet and her discovery of her own beauty, to 14-year-old Kyla Rich, who wrote, "My 12-year-old sister and I love to read. .... you can never read too much, especially with how much you can learn from reading: Learn about the world, about scholarly things that you'd learn in school, or, sometimes, about yourself. I never really knew why I read so much or why I liked it but, as I read your Dear Reader, I realized why. I read to understand, to know beyond myself. Exactly what you said in your Dear Reader. I guess that might be another reason I write. My sister and I are writers, unpublished of course, and we write to craft the kind of books we like to read, to give someone joy, to help someone, maybe even start a craze. We write for even that ONE person who likes our books, even if it is just one. At least someone cares enough to read." 

House of Dance, about Rosie's quest to find a final gift for her grandfather (and her discovery of a wonderful cast of ballroom dancers), to Patricia Corcoran, who wrote, "I'm 63 years old and have read for as long as I can remember. Except for when I was growing up, I didn't read Young Adult books. I don't know why, but I didn't. About 3 years ago, I started reading them and thoroughly enjoy the ones I've read so far. I have 2 grandchildren, Gregory who is 9 and Emily who is 8. Both of them like to read and, of course, I encourage them to do so. I've set a goal for myself to learn more about the young adult books, their authors, the book awards, etc so I can be more knowledgeable in this genre of books. I'm so pleased you have the relationship with these young people that you do.What an enrichment they are to your life and how fortunate you are to realize this. Thank you again for sharing this most enjoyable column. The way you described these young people will help me understand and enjoy the young adult books I will be reading in the future."

Nothing but Ghosts, a mystery that stars a bright young woman named Katie, who has recently lost her mother and is trying to understand how one survives loss (a journey that takes her into the garden of a recluse and into the care of a fine and fashionable librarian), to Lisa Moss, a librarian who wrote, "Our department, technically, covers up to 8th grade. But so many of our kids don't ever leave! Oh, sure, they move on in school and read bigger, not better, books from the adult department - but so many keep coming back to us. They volunteer in our Summer Reading Program. They visit during Spring Break.  They tell us stories from their first jobs. And the first thing they all do is go over to the new YA display to see what's there! Once a connection is made, it is there forever."

The Heart Is Not a Size, about Georgia and Riley, whose bestfriendship is tested when they travel to Juarez, Mexico, to build a community bathroom for a squatter's village, to Janet Valentine of Orlando, who is contemplating joining a teenage mission trip and wrote, "You portrayed teen-agers in such a positive light, my husband will be so happy that I read your column and it makes me lean more towards accepting this ministry.  Maybe I will learn a lot more from them than the other way around."

Dangerous Neighbors, about twin sisters, set against the backdrop of Centennial Philadelphia, to Jean Brady, who wrote, "It is so uplifting to see life from someone else's viewpoint, to walk beside someone solving a mystery, though often fiction; to learn more about decorating, recipes, and the like."

You Are My Only, the alternating stories of a young mother who loses her Baby to mysterious means and a teenaged girl breaking free from a reclusive home, to Pat Harmer, who wrote, "I just read your column that you wrote to fill in for Suzanne Beecher. I was so moved by how you expressed the young people. And I am going to recommend your books to my granddaughter, who will be thirteen this fall. She has yet to find an author that she really enjoys, and therefore does not read as much as I would like her to. And perhaps your books will be the ones that drawn her into the wonderful world of reading. Thank you so much for the inspiration."

My thanks to Caroline Leavitt, the wonderful novelist and friend and Facebooker, who suggested Dear Reader to me in the first place.


Q said...

Good picks. :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Last week I ran into a woman I used to teach with years ago. She told me about Dear Reader and that it's run by a high school classmate of hers. Small world!

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Love the way you chose these. Very generous.

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