Leanne Lieberman; $12.95 paper, 978-1-4598-0109-7, 227 pp., Orca Publishers, 2013 (ages 13+)
Kingston-based YA author, Leanne Lieberman offers an edgy, issue-oriented story, set in present-day Vancouver. Sixteen-year-old Lauren, whose father is a Holocaust historian, struggles with the usual teenage angst over boys, cliques, parental expectations, religion, little brothers, and frizzy hair. Basketball is a way to play one-on-one with her crush Jesse Summers, a popular boy at school, who has—as Lauren’s friend Brooke puts it— “radiant facial structure.” But just as romance begins to blossom, racism stops Lauren cold when she sees Jesse wearing a Nazi armband. Lauren knows its a game, but she feels sick to her stomach by what she’s seen. Should she tell an adult? Is it right to rat on her crush? Why is this game so wrong?
Lieberman captures the emotionally charged world of teens in this story that—like many teen dramas—features cliques. Text messages and shortforms (e.g., WTF, OMG) are integrated into the narrative. The demands of school, homework, and family obligations all dominate in Lauren’s life. While she works through tough issues and is a good student, Lauren’s not always a model of good behaviour. For instance, by page 7, she’s uttered the f-word. Later, she and her friends share some Vodka, stolen from her parents’ liquor cabinet. Some of her friends smoke at parties to look cool. Social dynamics and relationships with friends are central to Lauren’s life, but there’s a lot going on; she’s working through some profound questions.
True to the genre, the events that unravel result in personal growth and revelation. By the story’s end, Lauren has matured. She makes peace with Jesse and with her Jewish roots. The elements of Judaism will be familiar to some readers and will introduce others to new terms, including rabbi, synagogue, Rosh Hashana, Yiddish, the Book of Life, the Torah, Hebrew school, bar mitzvah, and anti-Semitism. This is an energetic and thought-provoking novel that will garner deep respect and compassion among readers for the Jews who endured terrible wrongs in the past. Most importantly, the book shows why this reverence holds fast today.
~ Jill BryantRead More »
Book reviews are a vital part of a book’s footprint. Critical reviews can offer a stamp of approval, a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down verdict on the final, published result of a writer’s hard work. More importantly, reviews help spread the word. They can say, “Hey, look at this book! It’s really good!” Nowadays it’s easy for anyone to log into any number of online bookseller sites to give their two cents worth and their own emotive summary of what a book means to them. Certainly, the reviews can go either way — favourable or unfavourable, lukewarm or cool. The most constructive are a tempered blend of both, but, in the end, it seems that publishers agree these informal book clubs take what used to be livingroom chit chat and transform it into public, shared, and widely accessible feedback. Listen to the buzz!
Writers love to write. What outsiders to the craft may not know is that few if any writers believe writing is simple. Rather, writing, which quickly evolves to rewriting and more rewriting, is enormously challenging. The process of bringing an idea to full fruition, in book form, normally takes at least a year. The journey is fraught with seemingly insurmountable hurdles, annoying glitches, and road blocks that send you back to the drawing board. As drafts are completed, as editors step in with their professional wordsmith skills, and as all the components (e.g., design, photographs, illustrations) fall into place, hope rises that the book will make a difference, have an impact, and be noticed. Certainly, seeing the book in print and holding it your hands is one of the greatest feelings. As word spreads, the rewards can be very affirming.
As author of three of The Women’s Hall of Fame Series books — most recently Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs — my greatest wish for these books (above and beyond stellar sales fantasies) is that they have an impact on the lives of some girls’ lives, helping girls be more confident, more bold, and eager to pursue their goals, unimpeded by societal constraints. Seeing reader feedback is enormously rewarding and helpful in informing me whether I’ve succeeded in my goal. Consequently, I welcome your feedback about my books. Thoughtful comments help me grow as a writer and let me know which aspects were most effective, and which needed more finessing. Just knowing that someone has taken time out of the crazy, fast-paced life we lead to read a book and fully and critically engage with it in a well-informed, carefully considered way, is truly the greatest gift of all. It is an honour to be reviewed, formally or informally. It’s all good.
If you’ve read Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, here are some quick links to pages where you can rate or review it:
Thank you also to Leanne Lieberman, a YA author and elementary school teacher, who reviewed Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs on her blog: http://leannelieberman.blogspot.ca/Read More »
On November 9, Kingston, Ontario authors gathered together for an afternoon event at Chapters. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but — my goodness — it was a busy day for me. Bobbing between an outlying swimming pool and Kingston’s Chapters — whilst a large family get-together occurred in my home — proved to be exhausting. But hey, when book promotion and exposure beckons, who would dare refuse?
A sizable table boasted stacks of familiar titles by Young Kingston authors Y.S. Lee, Mary Alice Downie, Ann-Maureen Owens, and me. We were joined, too, by acclaimed novelist Leanne Lieberman. Young Kingston member Christine Fader snapped these lovely photos and welcomed shoppers to investigate our books and ask questions. We greeted some friends, met avid readers, signed books, and handed out bookmarks. All in all, it was a fun afternoon. And later, when I got home, there was a delicious meal and decadent desserts awaiting me. Ahh!
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I know I should have blogged this last week, but better late than never, right?
In celebration of Canadian Children’s Book Week, Young Kingston authors are creating a bit of a buzz in the downtown. Kingstonians walking down Princess Street can admire the window display at Novel Idea, Kingston’s independent bookstore.
The window features books by several members of Young Kingston, including Y.S. Lee, Ann-Maureen Owens, Mary Alice Downie, Peggy Collins, Leanne Lieberman, Sarah Ti-Mei Tsiang, and me.
Ehem, Ann-Maureen and I can now add “window dresser” to our resumes! It was an interesting challenge figuring out how to best display the wide array of children’s books represented by our group. With stuffed animal characters from one of Peggy’s beautifully illustrated picture books (Tallula’s Atishoo!), a model of a canoe and Martello tower accompanying The Kids Book of Canadian Exploration and Forts of Canada by Ann-Maureen Owens, Victorian maps of London to showcase Y.S. Lee’s Agency series, and hand-crafted megaphone, spinning plate, juggling balls to feature my Backyard Circus book, the overall effect is upbeat, energetic, and fun.
It is such an honour to see my books in the store window. I am forever grateful to the store owner, Oscar, for giving us this opportunity to celebrate local children’s and young adult books. I’m sure all YK members echo this sentiment. I’d also like to extend thanks to the helpful staff at Novel Idea: Cynthia and Natasha.
I gave a ten-minute talk to pre-schoolers at the Isabel Turner branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library on Saturday, May 5. With mismatched socks, polka dot bow tie, and oversized plaid jacket, I read and performed from Backyard Circus. I also read three poems including two new ones that I wrote just for the occasion: “The Kids’ Table ABC and “Night Fears.” Simultaneously, Peggy Collins read at the Central library in Kingston.
On Sunday, May 6 from 1:00 to 5:00 members of Young Kingston chatted with the public, with each other, and were on hand to sign books to patrons. I dressed up Backyard Circus style — why not? — and the afternoon was a lot of fun.
There are still plenty of signed books in the store, so please pop in this week to pick up some very meaningful and beautiful birthday gifts for children and youths. The selection is truly impressive.
This Saturday, May 12 at 10:30 a.m. I’ll be giving another ten-minute talk at the Central branch of the KFPL. Since this is the branch my family frequents, it will be extra special having the opportunity to speak there. Thank you to librarians Sarah Balint and Sarah Macdonald for their efforts in organizing these readings.
One more item to note: the Central branch has created a book display and bulletin board featuring Young Kingston writers’ books, biographies, original artwork by Peggy Collins, newsclippings, and book covers. Another display area includes other picture books by Canadian authors and illustrators. Again, thanks to Sarah and Brenda for creating the displays. What a wonderful way to show off the works of talented Canadians. It’s going to be such a fun week!
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