Firstborn/Lorie Ann Grover: celebration!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yesterday I tried to remember my YA book life before Readergirlz entered in, and then I realized—well, I hardly had any YA book life before that happened. Maybe there was a book or two, a blog follower and a smidge, but it was when Readergirlz somehow found me or I, them (I cannot remember the sequence), that I began to live more fully in YA Wonderland.

Lorie Ann Grover, one of the founders of Readergirlz, was there from the start. We shared a love for young readers and a faith that they can be reached, a fascination with dance, and optimism about books—optimism through the thick and the thin, the high and the low of this publishing business. We believed in the intelligence of younger readers—in stretching with them, in learning from them.

I'm very happy, then, to share word today of Lorie Ann Grover's newest book, Firstborn, which was released just this week by Blink. Inspired by an article Lorie Ann read on "the practice of systematic annihilation of baby girls in countries throughout the world," it has been described by early elated reviewers as both a fantasy and a dystopian read. It has a Kirkus star—and people are talking.

I am deeply appreciative of writers who can take me into entirely new worlds, and this is precisely what Firstborn does from its very first page—opens the door to a world we haven't seen before. There are packs bulging with mutton and herbs, a communal rain urn, a priest with black robes and attached wings that hisses to a couple "Your firstborn female is worthless!" For here, in this world, firstborn females are worthless, and the only way for Tiadone, a firstborn girl, to survive is for her parents to raise her as a boy—and hope that she denies, neglects, or somehow otherwise masks her feminine ways.

Her parents choose, for her, this masked survival.

It's a hard life out there, as Tiadone grows up. Here is how Lorie Ann describes her world:
The square overflows with people. Fourteen years after the conquest we R'tan villagers still give a wide berth to the ruling Madronians. Clad in roughspun trousers, ponchos, and layered dresses, R'tan sidestep the Madronians in their ornate robe, and we continue to avert our eyes from their kohl-dotted ones.
But it's not just this grittiness that tears at Tiadone's soul. It's her growing sense, as her male initiation rites grow near, that she is suppressing more of her self that any young woman should suppress. That there is something beautiful, indeed, about being female. That having to pretend she is a boy is denying her all that she is coming to love. What are her choices? What are the risks of being exposed? This is the story Lorie Ann, in her loving way, lovingly tells.

We are all rejoicing for you, Lorie Ann. We—Readergirlz Proper and Readergirlz Extended—send our blessings on the powerful new book you are launching into the world.


Lorie Ann Grover said...

Oh, thank you so much, dear Beth! Your words and sentiments are so kind. I'm deeply touched. Sending my love!

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