Praise for Dr. Radway
STARRED Kirkus Review:
DR. RADWAY'S SARSAPARILLA RESOLVENT [STARRED REVIEW!]
Kephart has crafted a deeply satisfying tale that’s richly evocative of its time and place.
Playing masterfully with words, knitting them into new and deliciously expressive forms, Kephart’s story is one of loss and then redemption. William Quinn is only 14. With his father in the Cherry Hill prison and his genially wayward older brother, Francis, recently beaten to death by a brutal policeman, his mother has ground herself into unbearable, paralyzing grief, and the boy has to find a way to save them both. He has help from many: Career, his cheerfully ambitious best friend; Pearl, a good-hearted prostitute; Molly, a neighbor child who’s deeply smitten with Career; a wayward goat named Daisy; and the abiding memory of Francis. Gradually, William finds a way to make right some terrible wrongs that are only revealed at a perfectly measured pace. Stark, spare illustrations provide an effective counterpoint to the flowing, poetic language. Against the 1871 Philadelphia setting (five years before the related Dangerous Neighbors, 2010), a faultlessly depicted world of sound, energy and ample filth, the fully developed characters of William and Career are trapped in a bleakly hopeless situation. But they never fully give up hoping. Like the very best of historical fiction, this effort combines a timeless tale with a vividly recreated, fascinating world.
An outstanding and ultimately life-affirming tale. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)
Philadelphia Inquirer Review
"The bare bones of Beth Kephart's new story sound modern, but this bright, burning novel—intended for a young adult audience but powerful enough to engage any adult—is set in the Philadelphia of 1870. Using surprising period details and a gorgeous turn of phrase, Kephart has called forth an interesting time in our city's history and made it live again for just a moment." — Katie Haegele, Philadelphia Inquirer
Philly.com/Nathaniel Popkin Review
"One of Kephart’s gifts in her ongoing written exploration of Philadelphia is the capacity, and the willingness, to look on all that’s here with honesty, to allow for confusion and contradiction, for might and violence all at once. A writer does so by loving her characters, even the rotten ones, even the city so sour it might burn. And by bathing it, as only this one can, in fullness of breath." — Nathaniel Popkin, Philly.com
2 Heads Together Review
What both books do so well is describe one city, Philadelphia of the 1870s, although two different worlds. Both books delve into their main characters, William and Katherine, making them come alive. And both books use language as only Beth Kephart uses language.
It was a luxury reading the books one after the other, because it highlights the contrasts that otherwise would have been hidden. So, Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent and then Dangerous Neighbors. The one-two punch in books. — Ed Goldberg, 2HeadsTogether
Read an excerpt:
Go here to read a few pages.....
PRAISE FOR DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS
“Conjuring sharp, meticulously detailed images of fair exhibitions…Kephart evokes a tantalizing
portrait of love, remorse, and redemption.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“It’s a beautifully crafted, carefully researched historical novel that captures the essence
of a single historic event while exploring the universality of love, grief, guilt, and the mysterious
twin connection.” — Booklist
“While the story is compelling enough for readers who enjoy historical fiction, this books’
excellence lies in the subtle descriptions nestled in Kephart’s writing. It is a book beautifully
done, the complex human emotions of heartbreak and hope exquisitely intertwined.”
— Library Media Connection
“... a tender, quiet work of historical fiction...exquisitely crafted...as lovely in its imagery as
it is tragic...” — Kirkus
Coming from New City Community Press/Temple University Press, May 2013.
For the story behind the story, go here.
To read two brief excerpts and view an illustration, go here.
For a self-imposed interview, see below:
What is the working title of your book?
The title of this book, for real and for good, is Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent. See the cover above? We're not changing it.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
William, my hero, is obsessed with the medicines of the time, for he is searching for a cure for his heartbroken mother. Dr. Radway lived in Manayunk and his Sarsaparilla Resolvent was world-renowned for curing everything, perhaps even sleep insufficiency, in which case I am ordering me up a bottle. Today we know this medicinal magic as root beer. Does anybody have a glass of ice handy?
What genre does your book fall under?
This lady, who is not a fan of labeling fiction, would, if forced to do it, describe Dr. Radway as historical fiction for middle grade/young adult/adult readers with two teen male protagonists at its heart. Simply and non-boastfully put, Dr. Radway is a good book for everyone. I am so good at non-boastful.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
There's a young prostitute, named Pearl, who is integral to this story. She's tough, she's big-hearted, and she saves the day. Jennifer Lawrence is my Pearl. William has a grieving, beautiful mother—Marisa Tomei or Amy Adams. As for William and his best friend, Career, Alex Shaffer (Win Win) and Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games) Josh looks exactly like my Career (so long as you give him a pipe to suck on). Alex was brilliant in Win Win, which is, by the way, one of my favorite indies and the brain child of my friend Mary Jane Skalski. But I digress. There are others in the story—the ghost of an older brother (not yet cast), a father in prison (Sean Penn, but younger), and a little sprite of a girl who lives next door. Let's give that role to Mackenzie, the youngest dancer in that whacky reality TV show, Dance Moms. She's so cute I have to stop myself from reaching through the TV and pinching her cheeks. But why am I watching that show anyway? And, since we are on the topic, Are mothers really like that? Have you ever met anyone like any of those moms? Okay, back to the topic.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Since this book is a prequel to Dangerous Neighbors, my 1876 Philadelphia Centennial novel, I have been working with my lead character, William, for more than seven years. A requited love affair, fictionally speaking.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I try not to compare.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My love for Philadelphia history. My absolute love for William. I could not let him go.