Thursday, February 20, 2014

Teen Book Fest Author Profile: A. S. King

A. S. King is one of the 321 authors coming to Rochester on May 17th at 9:00 am for the Rochester Teen Book Festival at Nazareth College.  I've had the chance to meet her, and believe me - you will LOVE meeting her at TBF.  Amy is interesting, funny, and down-to-earth.  My college aged daughter came with me to hear her speak, and we both agreed that A. S. King is awesome!  I can't wait till May for TBF!  Here are five fun facts about A. S. King:

1. I used to be a rare poultry breeder/crazy chicken lady.

2. I misspelled "soldier" in a fifth grade classroom spelling bee as S-O-L-G-E-R. I never got over it.

3. I can sing really well when I am driving by myself.

4. I used to teach adults how to read and it was the best job I ever had.

5. I love Peanut Butter Capn' Crunch even though it tears up the roof of my mouth.

check the catalog here

Summary:  Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

My thoughts:

This is definitely a book for older teens, due to some mature subject matter and language, but I thought it was very well done. Vera Dietz has gradually fallen in love with her childhood best friend, Charlie Kahn. Charlie lives in an abusive home, and his Junior year in  high school begins to make choices that lead him down a dark path. The book opens at Charlie's funeral, so you know that something very bad has happened, but the story of Charlie's demise is told through out the book. The point of view is mostly Vera's, but sometimes Charlie has a voice, Vera's dad, or even the Pagoda (a teen hang-out up in the woods) in town. The characters were flawed, but very real. It is a gritty, sad story, but at times it is humorous and hopeful.  All in all, a very well done book, that will stay with me for a long time. 

We were lucky to have A. S. King come to the Rochester area last fall, and she spoke here at the Greece Public Library for Teen Read Week in October.  Shortly after she spoke, her new book came out called Reality Boy.  My daughter Sarah read the book over Christmas break, and gave it "Two thumbs up".    Reality Boy tackles a tough topic:  America's obsession with reality TV.  Here's a review from Jenny on Goodreads: 

"Reality Boy was so much more than I was expecting. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Delving into Gerald's life, present and past, was fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Like the concept of Reality TV, watching Gerald's life is like watching a car accident unfold before your eyes. You can't stop looking, even when the carnage is revealed. It's terrible and tragic and you are just hoping everyone will survive the fallout.

A.S. King does a tremendous job looking beyond the surface and the camera editing and sees into the heart and soul of Gerald, and Hannah, and anyone else's life behind closed doors. Ignoring things does not make them go away, and frequently it just makes things worse. And amidst the evil, for lack of a better word, there is also hope. With every terrible character, there is a person with a flicker of hope, wanting something better and wishing that for another. And I love that Gerald gives me hope, beyond him just trying to stay out of jail. There is hope in this story, but there is a tough fight to get there, and I loved the journey."

check the catalog here

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