Teen concert pianist, affair with teacher, deeply disturbed teen, and ditching own wedding…

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This week at the Gilpin Library

by Larry Grieco, Librarian

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting several authors at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago. The Public Programs Office of ALA offers a “live reading stage” for authors to read from their books, and for one morning of the conference I acted as emcee. There are two perks for being emcee: first you get to interact with the authors, which is a lot of fun, and second, your library gets copies of the authors’ books.

The first author was Sara Zarr who read from her new novel, The Lucy Variations. This is a book about a sixteen-year-old girl, Lucy, a child prodigy who had a promising career in store as a concert pianist. She performed before sold-out audiences and world-famous music critics, and all this happened before she turned fourteen. Then due to a series of unfortunate occurrences in her life, she walked away at sixteen. She has a ten-year-old brother, Gus, who is a budding talent in his own right, and Gus is left to bear the burden of the high family expectations. One day Gus gets a new piano teacher who “is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano.” This book would be of interest to teen readers as well as adults. Booklist:  “Zarr’s writing is remarkable.”

Next I had the pleasure of meeting novelist Kristina Riggle. Her new book is called The Whole Golden World. This book too is something that both teens and older readers would enjoy, although its subject matter is a bit of an adult dose. Seventeen-year-old Morgan Monetti, a senior in high school, has an affair with one of her teachers, popular TJ Hill. TJ is handsome, loving, respected, and also married, to a woman named Rain. When the affair is uncovered and TJ is arrested and goes to court, Morgan shows her support by sitting right behind him in the courtroom, and not with her parents. Morgan’s mother, Dinah, is a fighter and seeks justice, believing TJ to be a criminal who took advantage of her daughter. The story is told from the perspective of three remarkable women, and “navigates the precarious territory between childhood and adulthood.”

The third book is a young adult novel written by Matthew Quick, whose previous book, The Silver Linings Playbook, was turned into an Oscar-winning movie. His newest novel is called Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, and tells the story of one day in the life of a deeply disturbed teenage boy. On his birthday, Leonard Peacock has a plan to take a gun to school, kill his best friend, and then turn the gun on himself. He prepares gifts for the four people he wants to say goodbye to: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. In the artful hands of acclaimed writer Matthew Quick, this makes for a riveting book for teens and older readers.

And finally there’s a romantic novel by New York Times Bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In The Great Escape, she tells the story of Lucy Jorik, “a champ at not embarrassing her family, especially her mother who is one of the most famous women in the world.” After marching down the aisle at her own wedding, Lucy flees the church before saying “I do,” and hitches a ride “on the back of a beat-up motorcycle with a rough-looking stranger who couldn’t be more foreign to her privileged existence.” Library Journal: “Another winner from a stellar writer who never disappoints…With brilliant dialogue, sassy humor, and laser-like insight into what makes people tick, Phillips gifts readers with an engrossing, beautifully written romance that satisfies on all levels.” Phillips is a four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award.

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