Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist. Her YA novels include If I Stay and its sequel, Where She Went.

A few weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m always reading quite a bit of YA to keep up on what’s out there, and what’s out there right now is quite a bit of paranormal and dystopian. I must admit that lately I have shied away from anything with the following words in the flap copy: magic, witch, vampire, spirit, dragon, angel, werewolf, curse, power, haunt.

Luckily, sometimes I ignore my own rules because had I followed them more religiously, I might've missed some incredible reads.

Holly Black’s White Cat was more sexy noir than paranormal—it takes place in an alternate world in which certain magic practitioners (curse workers) are known, outlawed, and hence ruled by the mob. It was a fascinating story about a family of grifters, and the writing was sharp and gorgeous. I’m panting for the upcoming sequel, Red Glove.

Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls doesn’t come out until June and I don’t know how to describe it—spooky magical realism? It’s the story of two sisters and a dead girl who comes back, but to call it paranormal doesn’t seem quite right. Shirley Jackson takes on YA? The writing is fierce and potent and the characterizations leap off the page. Ruby! I’ve never seen that sort of scary charismatic power so well portrayed in fiction before.

Franny Billingsley’s Chime is a historical fantasy novel, and seriously, even writing that phrase gives me hives—so not my cup of tea. But oh, lord, this book was incredible, modern-classic incredible. What it did with language. It was so inventive and experimental (in a good way) and I fell in love with the two main characters and the history part did not feel like wheat germ at all. Loved it.

I do like to slip in some adult books, as well as some nonfiction, and to that end I recently—and finally—read Patti Smith’s Just Kids. There might just be something paranormal in Smith’s ability to be Zelig-like on the scene for as so many seminal bands, artists, writers, got their starts. I loved this book. What a love story. About Robert Mapplethorpe. About New York City. About art.
Learn more about Where She Went and its author at Gayle Forman's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: If I Stay.

The Page 69 Test: Where She Went.

--Marshal Zeringue