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Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Caroline T. Patti
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BJORN’S GIFT is a sequel to Odin’s Promise, which was awarded the 2014 Midwest Book Award for Children’s Fiction. Set in Norway during World War II, Bjorn’s Gift continues the adventures of Mari, a young Norwegian girl who faces growing hardships and dangers in her small village in a western fjord. German occupation troops and local Nazi supporters move closer to her family’s daily life, and her classmate Leif becomes active in the Norwegian Nazi youth party. Mari struggles to live up to her brother Bjorn’s faith in her, as she becomes more involved in risky resistance activities, trusting only her family and a few close friends. Across Norway, oppressive laws are imposed in the months from Fall 1941 to early 1943, with dire local consequences. Difficult decisions force Mari to admit that many things in life are not easily sorted into good or bad, and she begins to wonder if Hitler will ever be defeated and . . . whether the occupation of Norway will ever end.
In the earliest pages of the original novel, ODIN’S PROMISE, eleven-year-old Mari became aware that the German occupation/invasion of Norway resulted in countless secrets. Kathleen Spale’s beautiful cover art for BJORN’S GIFT shows Mari using an attic space to put some of those secrets and worries on paper. Revealing more would require a spoiler alert, so instead I’ll share a story of my own about secrets in attic spaces.
I grew up in a three-story Tudor-style home. The staircase to that top level had a landing. There you could turn right and continue up a few steps to my brother’s bedroom, or turn left, facing a door. Behind that door was a storage space, always filled to bursting with the seasonal detritus of a large family. On one wall was a raised half-door we were told never to open or enter.
The reason wasn’t as sinister as that sounds. Behind the door was a small crawlspace with a plywood floor and beams only a few feet overhead, stuffed with pink insulation. I vividly remember being warned NOT to go into that space, that fiberglass was dangerous.
For most of the year the heat and prickly sensations that cramped space produced made rule-following easy. But winter weather, with its covered-up clothing, brought an instinct for hibernation. I’d lean against a wall, tug on the string attached to a low-watt bulb, and settle in to read, in private.
No, in secret.
But secrets can be dangerous.
On a weekend after Thanksgiving Mom and Dad took us kids to shop for winter coats. We each had the luxury of choosing our preferred styles, then learned the hard truth: the coats wouldn’t come home with us. Instead Mom had recorded all the details for us to include in our letters to Santa Claus.
One Saturday afternoon between that shopping trip and Christmas Eve I opened that little half-door to read for an hour or two. My tug on the light string showed that my space filled with bags and boxes.
Come on, now, you know what I did.
I looked inside.
Box after box revealed the exact coats we had selected. I stopped then, immediately certain that I didn’t want to see any more.
Christmas morning we found, as usual, that Santa had provided what Mom and Dad couldn’t afford. For the sake of my younger sister I didn’t say anything about my discovery, to her or to my parents. Instead, I scoured the faces of my older brother and sister, certain that they knew the truth, even while we stood in that store. They feigned surprise and excitement. They had written and mailed their own letters to Santa, including coat details. What other secrets were they keeping from me?
The stakes for me were drastically different from Mari’s, and yet I’m convinced that the confusion and distress I felt were similar to her reactions.
Who can you trust? Why so many secrets? What is the truth?
Sandy Brehl grew up in Ohio and has lived in Wisconsin for many years. As a longtime educator. Since retiring a few years ago she reads, writes and conducts literacy workshops for professionals. She’s been writing picture book text, poetry, professional articles, and longer works for years. She credits joining SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) after retiring as a major factor in developing her debut middle grade novel and this trilogy. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys gardening, art, and travel.
Twitter: @SandyBrehl and @PBWorkshop | Facebook | Goodreads
Also blogs about picture books for all ages at
and shares a blog about middle grade historical books with three other authors:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
September 1– Interview with Todd Burleson at http://groggorg.blogspot.com
Launch book giveaway raffle at
September 7 Review: Stephanie Lowden at golowd
September 11 Guest post Unleashing Readers at http://www.unleashingreaders.com
September 14 Review by Erik at This Kid Reviews Books, https://thiskidreviewsbooks.com
September 19` Review, Suzanne Warr, at Tales from the Raven: http://suzannewarr.com
September 20 Olivia and Oscar- review of ODIN’S PROMISE at Kid Book Reviewer: http://www.kidbookreviewer.com
September 27 Olivia and Oscar- review of BJORN’S GIFT at Kid Book Reviewer: http://www.kidbookreviewer.com (reminder- giveaway ends Sept. 30.
September 29 Alex Baugh review at Children’s War https://thechildrenswar.blogspot.com
October 3 Jenni Enzor MMGM with review and interview http://jennienzor.blogspot.com
October 5 MomReadIt- review https://momreadit.wordpress.com
October 7 Trisha Perry Mindjacked https://momreadit.wordpress.com
October 11 Guest post Rochelle Melander http://writenowcoach.com/blog/
Barrie must rescue her beloved and her family from evil spirits in the masterful conclusion to the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy.
Caged by secrets all around her and haunted by mistakes that have estranged her from Eight Beaufort, Barrie Watson is desperate to break the curse that puts her family in danger—without breaking the beautiful magic that protects Watson’s Landing. To do that, she must heal the rifts that have split the families of the island apart for three hundred years, unravel the mystery of the Fire Carrier and the spirits he guards, and take control of forces so deadly and awe-inspiring they threaten to overwhelm her.
With the spirits that cursed Watson Island centuries ago awake and more dangerous than ever, she finds an unlikely ally in the haunting and enigmatic Obadiah, whose motivations and power she still can’t read—or trust. His help comes at a price, however, plunging Barrie into a deadly maze of magic and wonder, mystery and intrigue that leads through history to places she never imagined she could go.
LINKS: Amazon | B&N
Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. Her first teacher in the U.S. made fun of her for not pronouncing the “wh” sound right, so she set out to master “all the words”—she’s still working on that! In the meantime she’s writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit.
If you like romance steeped in mystery, mayhem, Spanish moss, and a bit of magic, she hopes you’ll look forward to meeting Barrie, Eight, Cassie, Pru, Seven and the other characters of Watson Island.
Illusion by Martina Boone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Magic! Swoon-worthy romance between Barrie and Eight. History not found in high school textbooks revealed! Stereotypes SMASHED! This is a series YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS.
Martina Boone does a phenomenal job bringing The Heirs of Watson Island trilogy to a magical conclusion with a heart pounding end!
Here’s what you need to know…
The romance between Eight and Barrie is SMOKIN’ HOT!
The magic is BREATHTAKING:
And the search for treasure leads to discoveries:
Ghosts are vanquished:
Lives are changed FOREVER & hopefully a…
Get ready for answers to all the questions you have about the yunwi, the Fire Carrier, Obadiah, and the curse. Mythology abounds, this is a series that goes beyond the magic, fantasy, mystery, and romance. Martina’s research into history and folklore from many cultures is done with eye-opening compassion and understanding. Readers learn as Barrie and Eight learn. And oooooh my, those swoon-worthy kisses! Once again, Watson Island comes alive for the reader. You’ll feel the beat of the music, want to dance along with Barrie and Eight, drool over the food, and rock in the Away, Eight’s boat. You’ll cheer for Pru and Seven as they figure out their relationship. Martina’s writing is brilliant. There are so many lines you’ll want to quote. So much wisdom, so much heart. And the ending. Such an ending!
This is a series you’ll want to read from beginning to the very end. I LOVED IT! Don’t miss it!!!!
View all my reviews
ABOUT THE LOST AND THE FOUND:
When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.
Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…
ABOUT CAT CLARKE:
Cat was born in Zambia and brought up in Edinburgh and Yorkshire, which has given her an accent that tends to confuse people.
Cat has written non-fiction books about exciting things like cowboys, sharks and pirates, and now writes YA novels. She lives in Edinburgh with a couple of cats, Jem and Scout, who spend their days plotting to spit up furballs at the most inconvenient times. She likes cheese A LOT, especially baked camembert.
LINKS: Website | Twitter
Food often works its way into my stories (often when I make the critical error of writing while hungry!) but in The Lost and the Found a particular type of food has an important role. One of my characters is a particularly lovely Frenchman called Michel, who is a sort of step-father to the main character, Faith. Michel is a veterinarian, but on the weekends he likes to make macarons and sell them at the local market. If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying one of these delicious morsels, a macaron is a tiny hamburger-shaped sweet treat, made from almond meringue and filled with ganache or jam. They are good. Really, really good.
I didn’t plan on making Michel a master macaron-maker (try saying that three times really fast!) but at the time I’d recently discovered a macaron shop in my hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland. Mademoiselle Macaron makes THE best macarons this side of Paris, and I became ever so slightly obsessed with the salted caramel ones. So when I was trying to come up with something fun for Michel and Faith to do together at weekends, macarons popped into my head.
For the UK launch party of The Lost and the Found, Mademoiselle Macaron made the most spectacular macaron tower, which the guests proceeded to demolish in a matter of hours. Here’s a picture of me, sampling the macarons just to make sure they were good enough for the guests. I only had one or two. Honest. Please ignore the tiny cheeses on the table in front of the tower. Cheese appears in lots of my novels, but that’s another story for another day.
Roo-all. The ‘d’ is silent.
Roald loved making a treat that he learned about from his own mother. He would take a banana and mash it up with a few drops of olive oil. The olive oil heightens the flavor of the banana and turns it into a delicious syrupy paste.
When he was first flying in Africa, Roald Dahl wrote to his mother telling her how lucky he felt to be flying. But Roald Dahl nearly lost his life when his plane crashed in the Libyan desert and burst into flames. He managed to drag himself out before the plane blew up and he sustained a fractured skull and temporary blindness.
When his children were falling asleep, Roald Dahl would climb up the ladder and stand next to their windows. Then, he’d push a bamboo cane through and act as the BFG, the Big Friendly Giant.
After dinner, guests were offered a red plastic box made up of all Roald Dahl’s favorite candies: Twix, Kit Kats, Rolos, Smarties, Flakes, and Maltesers
In an essay for ROALD DAHL’S COOKBOOK, Roald Dahl wrote a history of the great chocolate bars, waxing lyrical about the “seven miraculous years” between 1930 and 1937 when the greatest chocolates—including Mars, Kit Kat, Aero, Maltesers, Rolo and Smarties—were invented.
The beloved brown and white Jack Russell Terrier was fed oysters, caviar, Smarties, and sometimes dog food. Chopper was the last dog that Roald Dahl owned and the pair even appeared on TV together. Chopper lived to the ripe old age of sixteen.
In 1960, the carriage carrying Roald Dahl’s son, Theo (just four months old) was hit by a cab on the corner of a New York street and crushed against the side of a bus. Theo underwent several operations to drain fluid from his head. However, the valve used to drain the fluid kept blocking and clogging. With Theo’s life at stake, Roald joined forces with Stanley Wade (a toymaker, who specialized in model aeroplane engines) and Kenneth Till (a pioneering pediatric neurosurgeon). Together, they created the Dahl-Wade-Till valve, which not only saved Theo’s life, but also those of almost three thousand children affected by similar conditions worldwide.
Roald Dahl mixed amazing bedtime drinks for his children and called them “witches potions.” They contained ingredients such as canned peaches blended with milk and pink, blue or green food coloring.
He loved to go out early in the morning with his dog Chopper for company, to gather mushrooms hidden in the local field.
When he was in school, Roald was considered a terrible writer by his teachers. One teacher described Roald as being “quite incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper.” Later, when he wrote a story for his daughter Lucy to hand in as part of her English homework, the paper received a “C–you could do better.”
For more fun facts about Roald Dahl check out:
D is for Dahl: A gloriumptious A-Z guide to the world of Roald Dahl Compiled by Wendy Cooling; Illustrations by Quentin Blake
Puffin Books; $5.99; Available now!
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. In 1951, Roald Dahl met his future wife, the American actress Patricia Neal, who starred in films including The Day the Earth Stood Still, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Hud, for which she won an Oscar. After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 and wrote two of his best-known novels, James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the U.S.
In September 1964, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published initially in the U.S. with the U.K. following a few years later. It would go on to become one of the most famous and best-known of Roald’s stories. The idea for the story grew out of his own well-documented love of chocolate and his school-day memories of acting as a taster for a famous chocolate factory. These first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.
Today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and have sold more than 200 million books. With more than 40 million Roald Dahl books in print in the U.S. alone, Dahl is considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time and his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.
Entitled Roald Dahl 100, 2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl—the world’s number one storyteller. There will be celebrations for Roald Dahl 100 throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone.
Roald Dahl said, “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
The Roald Dahl Literary Estate believes in doing good things. That’s why ten percent of all Roald Dahl income* goes to our charity partners. We have supported causes including: specialist children’s nurses, grants for families in need, and educational outreach programs.
The Roald Dahl Charitable Trust is a registered UK charity (no. 1119330).
* All author payments and royalty income net of third party commissions.
A percentage of proceeds from some of the Roald Dahl 100 events planned for this September will be donated to Partners in Health, a charity co-founded by Ophelia Dahl, Roald Dahl’s daughter. Partners in Health works in partnership with local governments and health providers to bring high-quality health care to poor communities in ten countries.
PIH believes that health is a human right and that a person’s ability to pay for treatment should not determine their access to health care. For nearly 30 years, PIH has shaped discourse among global health policymakers and proven what is possible in making health care accessible to all people.
PIH trains local health workers, nurses, and doctors in order to raise the standard of care for poor people. In partnership with the world’s leading medical and academic institutions, PIH aims to build workforces of local health professionals to strengthen and sustain public health systems.
Our achievements are based on our philosophy of accompaniment. To us this means working beside and learning from people in the countries where we work. We share experiences and goals, partnering to bring care where it is needed most.
For more information, visit www.pih.org.
Penguin Young Readers
Penguin Young Readers is one of the leading children’s book publishers in the United States. The company owns a wide range of imprints and trademarks including Dial Books, Dutton, Grosset & Dunlap, Philomel, Puffin, Speak, Firebird, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Viking, Razorbill, and Frederick Warne. These imprints are home to such award-winning, New York Times- bestselling authors as Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher, Judy Blume, Jan Brett, Eric Carle, Ally Condie, Roald Dahl, Tomie dePaola, Sarah Dessen, Anna Dewdney, John Flanagan, Gayle Forman John Green, Oliver Jeffers, Mike Lupica, Richelle Mead, B.J. Novak, Richard Peck, Judy Schachner, Jacqueline Woodson and dozens of other popular authors. Penguin Young Readers Group is also the proud publisher of perennial brand franchises such as The Little Engine That Could, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, Peter Rabbit, Spot, the Classic Winnie the Pooh, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Strega Nona, Madeline, Mad Libs, Alex Rider, the Rangers Apprentice, Skippyjon Jones, Flower Fairies, and Pippi Longstocking, among many others. Penguin Young Readers Group is a division of Penguin Group LLC, a Penguin Random House company.
Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.
In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks ranks for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.
Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for.
There is a lot that goes on around a book or behind the scene of a making of a book that most readers never know. I’m always one to watch the “making of” featurettes of my favorite movies, so here are five secret facts about DISCORD:
1- The idea for the book actually came from my former agent and her boss. They proposed a scene: a guy tied to a chair and a girl with a knife contemplating whether or not to kill him. The entire book spawned from that scene.
2- The first line of the book never changed. It was the very first thing I wrote in the draft, and it never changed.
3- I named everyone with purpose, but Kindra and Seraphina’s names are the most symbolic. Ten points to anyone who can figure out why I named them each that. A hint? One is ironic and the other one is metaphorically literal.
4-The saddest part of the book is Tristina Wright’s fault. I asked for advice while writing that scene, and what happens in it was her idea. Blame her. Somehow, though, she still manages to blame me. 😉
5- Thirteen months before this book was published, I did not think it would ever be published. Or at least not anytime soon. Everything between the contract and publication happened suddenly and at lightning speed. It was a delightful surprise in a lot of ways.
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author.
Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, ex-Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.
To celebrate the release of Assassins: Discord, one lucky winner will receive $30 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
After her first love was ripped from her grasp four years earlier, Charlie Easton was sure she would never be able to trust anyone with the shattered pieces of her heart again. That is, until Deacon Carver forces himself into her life, and makes those pieces swirl in chaos. But Charlie doesn’t know how to let him in… until a stranger stumbles upon a notebook filled with her innermost secrets, and shows her how.
Deacon Carver is known for sleeping his way through the town of Thatch, as well as the surrounding cities—something he used to take pride in. But that persona has haunted Deacon ever since he decided to leave that life behind for the girl he wants more than anything: Charlie Easton.
But when another girl falls into Deacon’s life, allowing him to be himself without judgment for his past, will their conversations hinder his relationship with Charlie … even if he’s never seen her?
This series? Um, then I’m for sure going to have to say Charlie. Reason … have you met Deacon? 😉 That’s what I thought.
I actually take forever to choose the names for my characters. It’s a good three-hour process for each one of my stories. Once I have the characters in mind, then I sit there scrolling through name sites for hours and hours until I find the names that fit them. I have a list of names that I absolutely love just sitting on my computer, and I have yet to use any of them because they haven’t fit the characters.
Yes, all of the scenes that involved Collin and Harlow in To The Stars. Not sure how I got through the actual writing of the scenes—actually I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe while I wrote them. But as soon as I finished just one Collin scene, I would have to walk away from my computer and go lie down because I would feel so emotionally and physically exhausted, and would be shaking too hard to continue.
Oh my goodness, there are so many. The biggest one from this series; is that no one has to continue living with domestic violence. There are ways to get help if you feel like you can’t get out. The other main one; is that moving on with your life doesn’t mean you’re forgetting or leaving behind whoever passed away. Remember that they would want you to continue living.
Trust. Trust, trust, trust. So much trust. That was a huge one in Letting Go and again in Show Me How, and in a way it was there—just a tad different—in To The Stars. In Show Me How, for example, Charlie wanted to believe that Deacon could change, but in the back of her mind, she kept waiting for the day when he would revert back to the old Deacon. And I think that if Deacon really thought that Charlie knew him and who he wanted to be, he would’ve never continued speaking to Words.
When I’m first getting into a story, I have to spend a lot of time just thinking about the story, and letting it develop. It has to be quiet, and it has to be dark, so I usually lay in bed. But when I actually start writing, I have to have music really loud, or else I can’t concentrate.
That it’s always worth it to write what you believe in, over what you think everyone else will want.
Author Molly McAdams
Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornadoes. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.
$25 (USD) gift card to the ebookseller of choice for 1 winner
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.
So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).
As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.
Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.
A huge number of things were taken from my real life as a sixteen and seventeen year old for How to Make Out. The thoughts Renley has during her first kiss in the novel are an EXACT transcript of mine during my first shocker of a French kiss (odd gum flavor choice included), the bikini wax scene was indeed inspired by real-life events, and Drew’s car is my friend Jeremy’s, from high school. Man was that thing a death machine.
Brianna Shrum is the author of NEVER NEVER and lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband and two uber-hyper, superhero-obsessed little boys. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She’d totally love to connect with you, so you can find her online at briannashrum.com or saying ridiculous things on Twitter @briannashrum.
Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.
When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.
In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.
About Wendy Higgins:
The audacious new novel about family and ambition from “one of the best living mystery writers” (Grantland) and bestselling, award-winning author of The Fever, Megan Abbott.
How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits — until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.
As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers — about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself — forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.
From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), YOU WILL KNOW ME is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.
“Almost unbearably tense, chilling and addictive, YOU WILL KNOW ME deftly transports the reader to the hyper-competitive arena of gymnastics where the dreams and aspirations of not just families but entire communities rest on the slender shoulders of one teenage girl. Exceptional.” — Paula Hawkins, author of the #1 bestseller The Girl on the Train
“Abbott has a knack for dissecting the dark, beating heart of the most all-American activity…It’s vivid, troubling, and powerful—and Abbott totally sticks the landing.” — Booklist, STARRED Review
“Abbott proves herself a master of fingernails-digging- into-your-palms suspense.” – Kirkus, STARRED Review
“In true Abbott style, nothing is predictable here; the plot consistently confounds expectations with its clever twists and turns. Admirers of Patricia Highsmith, Laura Lippman, and Kimberly Pauley are in for a treat.” — Library Journal, STARRED Review
“Thriller Award-winner Abbott (The Fever) takes a piercing look at what one family will sacrifice in the name of making their daughter a champion…Abbott keenly examines the pressures put on girls’ bodies and the fierce, often misguided love parents have for their children.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Boxed Review
“Abbott is working at the top of her craft, and YOU WILL KNOW ME is a crime novel where the crime is only a catalyst for an accomplished exploration of ordinary people’s unraveling when they become obsessed with the extraordinary among them.” — Shelf Awareness
“[Abbott] does killer teens better than anyone… Menace and more menace.” — New York Daily News
“[A] superb new book” — The Atlantic
“Present-day fiction’s most terrifying chronicler of the inner lives of teenage girls” — Chicago Reader
“Abbott’s ability to build suspense and feed on readers’ fear is nearly unparalleled… It’s both terrifying and gripping.” — Elle.com
“[Abbott] returns to the subject she always captures so intensely: the private desires of teenage girls.” — Entertainment Weekly
“Is there anything Megan Abbott can’t do? We will have to wait for the answer to that question because YOU WILL KNOW ME continues her formidable winning streak. This story of an ordinary family with an extraordinary child is gorgeously written, psychologically astute, a page-turner that forces you to slow down and savor every word… And, yes — please forgive me — she totally sticks the landing.” — Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Hush Hush
“Megan Abbott’s latest thriller plunges readers into the shockingly realistic life of young, female gymnasts whose severely regulated lives come with unthinkable consequences. Gritty, graphic, and yet beautiful and dreamlike in the way the story unfolds, YOU WILL KNOW ME comes barreling at you with all the power and urgency of a high-speed train, as Abbott asserts herself as one of the greatest crime writers of our time.” — Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
“That rarefied sweet spot between unnerving psychological suspense and a family drama with heart, YOU WILL KNOW ME induces equal parts dread and unease, empathy and warmth. The pages couldn’t turn fast enough as I dug deeper into the peculiar and fascinating Knox-family world, trying to figure out who was lying, who was telling the truth, and who was dangerous. Luscious writing, a timely and unique premise, and an ending that will haunt you all summer long.” — Jessica Knoll, author of the New York Times bestseller Luckiest Girl Alive
“YOU WILL KNOW ME takes you into the dark heart of family, a journey that feels more menacing with every page. Abbott cranks the tension up in this disturbing tale of exactly what we are prepared to do for our children — I was reading compulsively into the night. A beautifully written, gripping read that feels unshakeably real.” — Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Hold on to the edge of your seat, because this is one heck of a ride. You Will Know Me is the kind of novel you won’t be able to put down. Each page will draw you in deeper and deeper until you’re entangled in the suspense, family drama and sacrifice, murder and mystery. Unforgettable and chilling, readers will never look at the quest for Olympic gymnastic’s gold without wondering if the price—spiritually, physically, emotionally—was too much to pay.
Though I don’t read suspenseful thrillers on a regular basis, Abbott has become an auto-read. She takes headline news and makes the stories her own. She creates compelling novels that will test boundaries and values, forcing you to think about personal lines and where to draw them.
This was my reaction:
Megan Abbott, once again, created a crossover novel—written for adults, but appropriate for YA—that’s filled with mystery, intrigue, and tension.
In YOU WILL KNOW ME, the obsession is gymnastics and what a family will or won’t do for their gifted daughter. What is the moral code? Responsibility of coaches, parents, athletes, and even neighbors and extended family?
Abbott will have readers needing to turn the pages. I often correctly guess who the guilty party is or I figure out the major plot twists in novels before they unfold on the page. But not this time, and I loved that!!! So if you’re even a bit intrigued by the premise of the novel and are high school age +, I highly recommend this book!
Thank you to Tandem Literary for sending me a review copy.
View all my reviews
Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, and The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Summer by the New York Times, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.
Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.
She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.
7/26: Book Court, Brooklyn, NY—7:00pm
7/27: St Louis County Library, St. Louis, MO—7:00pm
7/28: Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ—7:00pm
7/29: Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, NY—7:00pm
8/1: Brookline Booksmith, Boston, MA—7:00pm
8/2: Book People, Austin, TX—7:00pm
8/3: Murder by the Book, Houston, TX –6:30pm
8/4: Square Books, Oxford, MS—5:00pm
8/9: Book Passage Corte, Madera, CA—1:00pm
8/9: Books Inc. Opera Plaza, San Francisco, CA – 7:00pm
8/10: Book Carnival, Orange, CA—7:30pm
8/11: Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA—7:30pm
8/20: Mississippi Book Festival, Jackson, MS
9/15-9/18: Bouchercon 2016, New Orleans, LA
What was the inspiration for You Will Know Me?
I’ve always been interested in families of prodigies. How power operates in those families, how ambition does. Then, during the London Olympics four years ago, I saw this video of the parents of American gymnast Aly Raisman watching their daughter’s uneven bar routine and it kind of blew me away. They were so invested in it, so connected to her. They moved as she moved. They knew every beat of the performance. The footage went viral and the response to it was tricky. Some people found it funny, others found it problematic and there was some finger pointing. I think we all struggle with how invested parents should be in their children’s development, but with exceptionally talented children, all that is thrown into high relief.
I could just feel the book taking shape after that. How does that kind of intense focus on a child’s talent affect a marriage, for instance? What about siblings? And families in general fascinate me—the place of the greatest darkness and the greatest light.
You are known for writing shockingly accurate portrayals of teen angst and an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of teen girls. Why are you so drawn to this subject matter?
In some ways because teen girls are still so often dismissed or condescended to. But every woman I know is haunted in some ways by their teen years, by the choices they made then and the way they crafted their identity and developed their sense of self.
And, as a writer, it’s such rich terrain. Everything is in such high relief during those years. All the big emotions of life seem to storm through us every day. When I remember myself at that age, it was like my nerve endings were all exposed. It’s when you’re both at your most curious (and, potentially, risk-taking) and also at your most vulnerable—especially to disillusionment. And when you’re a mom, like the main character in You Will Know Me, you’re in some ways living through it all again through your daughter, which is incredibly complicated.
You Will Know Me is a bit of a departure in that it focuses more on the parents’ perspective. Why did you choose to shift gears in this way?
My last book, The Fever, had three viewpoints, one of whom was the father of two teens, and I really loved it. Exploring the gap between how parents view their teens and how teens view themselves, and vice versa. But it seemed thrillingly different in the case of You Will Know Me. Katie, the protagonist, is so close to her daughter, Devon, because of the way the family has circled itself around Devon’s extraordinary talent. And that closeness fascinates me.
At what point does your child become a stranger to you? Because all children need to break apart from you to become themselves, but is it slower to happen in the case of a prodigy? A case when the parent, like Katie, is so tied up in her daughter’s everyday life?
What research did you do into the world of uber-competitive youth gymnastics when writing You Will Know Me?
Gymnast memoirs were a huge help. I read almost every one I could get my hands on. Both the flag-waving sports ones and the tougher ones too, the exposés. The one that had the biggest impact for me was Nadia Comaneci’s Letters to a Young Gymnast, which is a brilliant book on many levels (foremost her strong voice), and is such a keen distillation of what seems a pure, fire-hardened ambition. I also talked to former gymnasts and had one of them read the manuscript.
And, I confess, watching a lot of YouTube, and diving into online chat rooms, especially those devoted to parents of gymnasts. But the book’s title comes from Nadia, who tells her reader, “I don’t know you, but you will know me.” What could be more enticing to a reader?
What did you learn about this world that surprised you?
Everything! I became very fixated on the mental control and struggles the gymnasts faced. How much it is a head game. And then the sport’s impact on girls’ developing bodies. It is not a universal experience, but for many girls it halts their adolescence in certain ways, or it threatens to, and this prospect fascinated me and worked its way into the novel. Your body is both your greatest gift and your worst enemy. Maybe we all feel that, in a way.
Have any gymnasts or parents of youth athletes read and responded to You Will Know Me yet?
I’ve had a few early gymnast readers who’ve been very supportive. In particular, they’ve responded to the parent-booster culture in the book, the way parents invest in a gym and insert themselves into gym politics. The hothouse environment that the parent viewing area can take on. Or, “gym drama,” as it’s called. Which seems to have all the hallmarks of a great reality TV show, or a Shakespearean play.
After being so close to this world while researching and writing You Will Know Me, will you view the Olympics in Rio this year through a different lens?
I love watching gymnastics and this book reflects a love of, and immense respect for, the sport and the art. But in the end, I think the book is more about family and parent love than gymnastics, so probably my eyes will be more on the families than in past years. More on what it takes for a family to help make an Olympic medalist.
You’re working on TV scripts for your novels Dare Me (for HBO) and The Fever (for TNT). What is it like to adapt your own work for the small screen?
As much as people like to say that TV is the new novel, the two are so very different. By the time you sell it, it’s changed so much from the book—the world has gotten so much larger, you’ve had to create ways to make the story possibilities expand indefinitely—you lose all vanity about your own book. Instead, it’s something entirely new. But the biggest difference is how collaborative it is. Writing a novel, until the last stretch, is utterly solitary. Writing for TV is a cacophony of voices. Sometimes noisy, but never, ever lonely!
You recently joined the writing staff of David Simon’s (“The Wire”) new HBO drama “The Deuce.” How does that work differ from writing a novel? How did your career in fiction inform your work in the writers’ room? When can we see “The Deuce?”
Different in every way. I’d say apples and oranges, but maybe it’s more like apples and a large, cunning mountain lion! As collaborative as developing your work for TV is, being on staff for a show in production is a thousand times more so. You’re there to help in every way you can to bring the showrunners’ ideas to life. I think there are so many crime novelists writing for TV now because we bring a certain facility with plotting, but in the end what’s most exciting in the writers’ room is how different everyone is, how differently we see the world, and yet how we all value the same things: character, story, meaning.
And “The Deuce,” which stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, will be on HBO next year. I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s incredible.
Do you have time to work on another book with all of your TV project in the works? What’s next and when from Megan Abbott?
Somehow, I do! I have a new novel in the works called Give Me Your Hand, which will come out in 2018, I think. It’s about two ambitious female scientists who share a secret from their past. Very Hitchcock-inspired, this one.