A VOYA Perfect 10 2016 title!
A Top Ten New Jersey Books 2016 (alongside Bruce Springsteen!) The link to this little bit of astonishment is here.
"Each year, VOYA Magazine compiles reviews of titles that were awarded a 5Q and a 5P into our annual Perfect Tens list. VOYA’s unique rating system is the only one that weighs both literary quality and teen appeal equally, a distinction that is of great interest and use to those charged with ordering and collecting reading materials for teens.
"This list is relied upon by librarians and educators around the country (and the world) in their selection of titles to add to library and classroom collections. It is an invaluable tool to our readership, and a lofty honor to those authors and publishers whose titles are selected.
"The full reviews of all of the Perfect Ten honorees are included in ordering databases/systems of some of the largest book wholesalers and library jobbers in the country, for both public and school libraries. The complete listing of this year’s Perfect Ten reviews will be available to all on our website (www.voyamagazine.com), including the full reviews and book cover graphics. VOYA will be publicizing this year’s list via Facebook and Twitter. We are also publishing these reviews in our sister journal, Teacher Librarian."
A 2017 TAYSHAS Reading List selection
Featured in May issue of Writer Magazine, "Protect what you love," Melissa Hart: Middle grade and YA authors embrace environmental topics to create stories, activism, and stewardship among young readers. For more, go here.
A Junior Library Guild Book Club Selection
A mystery set on a barrier island in the aftermath of a monster storm.
A Scholastic Book Club Selection
Featured on All the Wonders Podcast (audio interview)
Featured on Book Club Advisor (video interview)
“What we lose, what we find, how we survive. Mira is alone when the storm hits her barrier-island town, with only a half-grown cat for company. The furor and devastation of the storm is horrible, but it is the aftermath, in the days before emergency help arrives, that is the most harrowing part: looking for loved ones; finding the dead; treating the wounded; finding food and water and shelter; and holding on to hope. The story of a huge storm and its impact on one small community, This is the Story of You is shot through with the gorgeous lyricism of Kephart's writing.” —Nancy Banks, Bookseller, City Stacks Books and Coffee
“Beth Kephart has written a lyrical novel where it is as easy to get lost in the language as the story. As often occurs in YA novels, Mira Bunal, is forced to face the worst on her own when a storm like Sandy hits the NJ island she lives on while her brother is receiving a treatment for a serious congenital illness. Mira finds the strength she needs and help in places she doesn't expect it. A great read for both teens and adults --that you might not want to read while summering at the Jersey shore.” —Cathy Fiebach, Bookseller, Main Point Books
“To pay attention, to love the world, to live beyond ourselves." This is what they learned living as year-rounders on the 6 mile long 1/2 mile wide vacationers paradise of Haven. This gripping, powerful YA novel is the story of family and friendship, of learning and learning more, of place and tragedy and resilience. It is the perfect summer read, but This is the Story of You will linger long after the last page is turned. —Angie Tally, Bookseller, The Country Bookshop
“Beautifully written, This is the Story of You follows the life of Mira Banul, a year-rounder living on Haven, a six mile by one-half mile island. Year-rounders are prepared for everything so when news of a giant storm blowing in reaches the island, they think nothing of it. But the storm is like nothing they've ever seen before, and when her family is stuck on the mainland and one of her closest friends is missing, Mira must learn how to cope with loss and rekindle her hope if she is to help the island recover. With new mysteries popping up every chapter, This Is The Story of You is impossible to put down.” — Marya Johnston, Bookseller, Out West Books
“A powerful, gorgeous novel that, like the storm itself, sneaks up on you, breaks hearts and bones, turns the world upside down, and leaves light and hope among its ruins.” –Dana Reinhardt, award winning author of The Things A Brother Knows and We Are the Goldens
It is the book that finally answers that age-old question what if you were a castaway thrown up on the shores of your own life. Isn't it amazing what a storm blows in: memories and mysteries. So much lost and then something found amidst the shattered flotsam -- something you couldn't have even known you were missing. A beautiful story. — Tim Wynne-Jones, Officer of the Order of Canada and award-winning author of The Emperor of Any Place, among many other titles
“This Is the Story of You is a passionate and lyrical portrait of a young girl’s extraordinary resilience. Each sentence is as polished as sea glass and uniquely melodic, and this novel’s beach town setting will entrance and enchant you while it attests to the unbreakable bonds of love. A powerful and beautifully told story.” — Margo Rabb, Kissing in America, Cures for Heartbreak
Starred VOYA Review:
“A moving epic of a super storm and how it unravels the lives of those caught in the midst.”—VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, starred review
Kephart creates a moving epic of a super storm and how it unravels the lives of those caught in the midst. Anyone who has ever lived through a hurricane or any other life-changing event in which his or her home is totally destroyed will recognize the bleakness and struggle one must overcome to survive and rebuild. Seventeen-year-old Mira Banul lives with her mother, Mickey, and her brother, Jasper, on Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile wide stretch of barrier island in New Jersey. Jasper Lee suffers from Hunter Syndrome, a rare disease in which he is missing an enzyme. When the storm hits, Mira is alone while her mother and brother are on the mainland. Mira finds the strength to carry on, relying on strangers to help her survive. Mira finds hope in the face of tragedy and learns how to survive despite the odds against her.
Kephart writes in short, lyrical sentences similar to Patricia McCormick’s style in Sold (Hyperion, 2008/VOYA December 2007). Her words read like poetry, creating strong images. Many of the sentences can be interpreted on two levels. For example, in the discussion of how sand is formed, Jasper Lee says, “the heavier the wave, the more powerful the crystal,” which can be interpreted as an analogy for life. There is advice here for everyone, “first rule when you feel afraid is to act.” This book is a quick read, but the memories will linger with readers.
Starred Kirkus Review:
"A masterful exploration of nature's power to shake human foundations, literal and figurative.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The devastating superstorm arrives without warning at night, destroying the bridge connecting Haven, a New Jersey barrier island, to the mainland and isolating residents from one another; with her mother and fragile little brother on the other side, Mira Banul, 17, must cope alone. Haven's small, close-knit community is a world unto itself after summer vacationers leave. Mira attends a small alternative school with her friends Deni and Eva. The supportive island culture tolerates eccentrics like Old Carmen, a fisher and resident vagrant. The care and affection of neighbors and friends mitigate the effects of the rare disease crippling Mira's brother. Now, without power or phone service, Mira's alone in a cottage on stilts. Worse, someone's been prowling around it. As wind and water invade her refuge, Mira forces herself to act, described deliberately in Kephart's characteristically precise prose. She finds strength protecting what's precious to her absent family: her brother's collection of sands, her mother's jewelry and art. She remembers to turn off the gas at the source. Caring for her rescued kitten comforts her through the long night. In the morning, she discovers the storm's carried away the first floor of the cottage. Some islanders fare worse. She finds Deni, but Eva is missing. Then the prowler returns. Mira's voice—lyrical yet gripping, specific yet universal—draws readers close to experience the storm and share her epiphanies. A masterful exploration of nature's power to shake human foundations, literal and figurative.
Starred SLJ Review:
VERDICT This beautifully written book works on many levels and is rich in its characterization, emotion, language, and hint of mystery.
KEPHART, Beth. This Is the Story of You. 264p. ebook available. Chronicle. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452142845.
Gr 7 Up –For Mira and her friends, living on a small island off the New Jersey coast means tourists all summer, a small school and close friends, and wild weather as a way of life. When the forecasters warn of a storm, no one is overly concerned and life continues, albeit with an eye on the weather. Mira, worried about her younger brother, who has a serious congenital disease and is hospitalized on the mainland, goes about the normal storm preparations while she waits to hear from her mother with an update on Jasper Lee’s condition. She visits with her best friends as they wonder about the new boy who has just started attending their small school and is secretive about his past. Mira, alone when the superstorm hits, sustains several injuries, but with the help of a reclusive beach dweller, escapes her damaged house and begins the struggle to find friends and survive without her mother and brother. When returning to her home to salvage what she can, she finds a strange girl who is sleeping in her bed, has gone through all of her things, and has secrets she does not want to share. Kephart’s nuanced novel is mutlilayered, poetic, and poignant. The bonds of love, friendship, family, and community in the face of adversity blend seamlessly with the emotional journey of Mira and her friends. Loosely based on Sandy and its aftermath, the book goes beyond the disaster novel genre and becomes a story of despair, hope, and triumph. VERDICT This beautifully written book works on many levels and is rich in its characterization, emotion, language, and hint of mystery.
Bustle Top 18 of April 2016 YA Reads: "This isn't your ordinary disaster story, as any fan of Beth Kephart can already see."
This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart (Chronicle, 4/12)
We fall in love with Kephart more and more every year, with novels like Going Over and Small Damages tapping into the joy and pain of the complex teenage experience. We're looking forward to her poetic writing and thoughtful plotting in this story of life after a superstorm destroys one girl's island home. View all our reviews of Kephart's previous books.
BookPage (April review, Sarah Weber): ... Kephart's liquid prose drives the story, fueling the reader's own emotional turmoil and rendering Mira and her friends brave and loyal despite their fear. Kephart's worldbuilding is meticulous and vivid, with details that make Haven feel like a place out of time. This smart, poignant novel is an absolute pleasure to read.
NJ.Com: Certainly there are scores of real people who continue to patch their lives together post-Sandy. This novel understands those miseries, showing us a new perspective in a most graceful way.
Publishers Weekly: “Kephart (One Stolen Thing) establishes relatable characters and a poetic style that artfully blend the island days before and after the storm.”
There's a Book for That: Must Read 2016 Spring Roundup.
Extraordinary words from the Reading Style Guide
When I sat down to read Beth Kephart’s newest novel, This Is the Story of You, its title and cover art caught my attention—personal, serene, then chaotic. I read the first line of chapter one—Blue, for example—and fell in love with the writing. A quarter of the way through the book, I adored each character, and connected with Mira, the narrator and protagonist. Kephart’s mesmerizing writing, wonderful characters, and themes of strength and endurance thrilled me from beginning to end. Full review here.
A sneak preview can be found here.
Take a look at the wonderful teacher guide, here.
From Guys Lit Wire/Colleen Mondor:
What I enjoy so much about Beth Kephart's books is the depth of emotion her characters experience. It is not that horrible things happen to them, but that they are unashamed to feel so much on every page. In Kephart's novels, people say what they think and what they mean. They look at the world and ponder what they see. They insist on taking part in their surrounding community. They are real - everyone Kephart creates is achingly, breath-takingly real. In some ways, they are more real then the rest of us, which is something to aspire to I think, as readers, as writers and as people.
From Serena Agusto-Cox:
This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart will astonish you with the resilience of young people, their drive to make things right, and their ability to withstand more than expected, but it is in the final pages that the true mystery is resolved. I will say this, I’m not often surprised by book endings or mysteries, but Kephart exceeded my detective skills for the first time in a long while. (I had suspicions, but not a fully formed conclusion.) Readers who love to immerse themselves in realistic places and explore humanity won’t be disappointed. Kephart is a talent at creating places that come alive and characters that grab hold of us emotionally.
**You’ve probably already suspected this is a contender for the best of 2016 list at the end of the year!**
From Imagined, Remembered, Believed (Jennifer Hoppins):
This is the Story of You is layered with meaning and multiple storylines to add complexity and variation within the mosaic. There are sibling relationships that give a new definition to the meaning of family. I particularly loved the relationship between Mira and her younger brother, Jasper Lee, who has a rare genetic disease. Mira’s love for Jasper Lee is one that motivates her to be strong and to live bravely. Her kindness to him reminds me to call my younger brothers more often. The quality of love and support that exists between them defies the old stereotype of rivalry. Not all relationships between siblings involve conflict. But Kephart doesn’t ignore that sometimes rivalries do impact families in profound ways, with surprising results. If you are a lover of lyrical, imagery-packed language, you will be surprised and delighted by Kephart’s craft.
You know that feeling when you finish the last page of a book and you’re in denial that it’s finished. Well, it seems like our Teenfunked reviewer experienced just that sense of loss when finishing this book. Maedbh McEvoy absolutely loved This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart. It’s hot off the presses and certainly one for your summer reading lists. Full review here.
From Eli to the nth:
A story of strength, rebuilding, friendship, and family, Beth Kephart manages to express the experience that Mira goes through in precise and lyrical language. A feast for the eyes, the prose contained in these pages make the story that much more impactful, and manage to add an entire layer to the events of the book. Beautifully written, and veritable emotional punch, This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart needs to be on everyone's reading list this summer.From Sarah Laurence:
This is a Story of You is a modern parable of the horrors of climate change. When a storm cuts off an island from the Jersey Shore, 17-year-old Mira must fight for survival with only a stray cat for company. Earlier that day, her single mom had driven her disabled brother to the mainland hospital for emergency treatment. As the storm rages and the sea floods their beachside cottage, Mira must decide what to save and how to stay alive. If that weren't scary enough, a mysterious intruder is lurking outside, and without power or cellular service, Mira can't call for help.... It reads like a classic adventure story/mystery with modern teen updates. Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal gave this book starred reviews. I predict that This is the Story of You will be a big hit.
From Mom Daughter Book Club:
"A thought-provoking book about responding to events that challenge physically and emotionally."
From Innocence Walker:
"A book that provides an emotionally engaging experience right from the get-go. Raw."
Cracking the Cove—here.
Eli to the nth—here .