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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Playing Catch-up

It’s been a busy month.

In addition to the usual (including, among other things, writing a new book) I’m also teaching a course on children’s literature at a small liberal arts university here in Austin. So far, the class has been great—I love my students, I love talking about books, I love it all, period (well, except for grading papers).

(I'm like Dumbledore. Except I'm black. And I'm not a wizard. And I'm not gay. And I'm not dead. But otherwise, we're just alike.)

I was also at ALA a few weeks ago, where I signed copied of My Life as a Rhombus and participated in the ALA Kid / YA Lit Tweetup (organized by the sensational Mitali Perkins and Deborah Sloan). I had the chance to see a lot of old friends on both the author and editorial side, plus I had lunch with my agent.


This is my favorite picture from ALA, taken by author Jeannine Atkins. I’m signing copies of Rhombus while author and friend Ellen Wittlinger looks on. Those that have read the blog enough times know how much Ellen’s work has affected my career, so it’s always great to see her.

ALA was the first of many Spring events that I have scheduled (see the full list here). Check back often, as I hope to fit in a few more events between March and July.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the unsung books of 2009 (started by Kelly at YAnnabe). I didn’t read a whole lot of books in 2009, but many of the ones I really, really, really, really loved and wanted to win awards (Once Was Lost, Liar, Going Bovine, How To Say Goodbye in Robot, Jumped, and Marcelo in the Real World) are books that I wouldn’t exactly call unsung. But there is one novel that I wish had received a little more attention: After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this novel since I finished it last summer. I also have a postcard for this book, which has the tagline “...about a boy who discovers what happens when love fails us--or we fail love,” which I think is a perfect way to describe the novel. Sometimes, as much as you want to do the right thing, you just...can’t. Sometimes, despite wanting to be a good, upstanding, honorable person, you fail the ones you love; the ones that need you most. And, it’s just so damn hard to save someone when you have no idea HOW to save one.

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy this novel so much is because of how similar some of the themes are to Saving Maddie...which I plan to talk about...eventually. But for now, you can check out this review by Melissa at Book Nut.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Colleen said...

I thought this was a great book as well - so well written, and so poignant. You know what killed me though? The cover. It was about a boy but with that cover I think they lost 90% of the potential male reading audience who never even thought to look at it twice. We talked about it at one point at Guys Lit Wire because it's such a great guy book but sadly, I don't think most guys ever even saw it. (I imagine the pub thought guys wouldn't read it anyway but I wish they had just gone with a non photo cover and left it up to the reader to pick up.)

1/26/2010 10:24 PM  
Blogger Varian Johnson said...

Colleen,

Very true. This is a great, non-stereotypical boy book that most boys will never pick up (and to be honest, I'm expecting the same fate for Saving Maddie). But at least they put the boy on the back cover. And they always have a chance to catch the boy readers with the paperback.

1/26/2010 10:29 PM  
Blogger Jeannine said...

Varian, I'm glad you liked the photo: it was a happy moment (I know Ellen loved having your new new book tucked in her bag). I'm teaching children's lit this semester in Amherst, MA (but try not to grade the papers, though that can annoy some). And I, too, am a fan of After the Moment. Always sad when good books slip out of sight too quickly. Jeannine Atkins

1/28/2010 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Jessica Leader said...

This'll have me thinking about the audience for AFTER THE MOMENT. Does the gender of the protag necessarily mean it's best appreciated by people of that gender?

Mostly, though, I wanted to chime in about the Dumbledore caption. Truly awesome.

1/29/2010 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Tee C. Royal said...

Congrats, Varian! I love this book cover and look forward to the release.

-Tee

2/02/2010 9:08 PM  

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