Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Anna Humphrey

Anna Humphrey is the author of Rhymes with Cupid and Mission (un)Popular, both novels for teens.

Her new book, Ruby Goldberg’s Bright Idea, is her first novel for middle graders.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Humphrey's reply:
The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane

I picked up this book because it was included on some kind of Oprah list as one of the best suspenseful books of the year, and honestly, I’ll do just about anything Oprah Winfrey tells me to. She introduced the world to Spanx, mail order pie and those shoes with the red soles on them. When has she ever steered us wrong?

The Night Guest, it turns out, is no exception. It’s the story of Ruth, an elderly widow who lives by herself near the ocean. One day a stranger appears, looking as if she’s been blown in from the sea. She claims to be a government worker assigned to help Ruth with daily tasks... but is she really? Aside from being absolutely gorgeously written, this book kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen. It also got me thinking about the darker sides of aging and dependency. Bonus: It starts with a tiger.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

This is the kind of YA book I wish I were brave and edgy enough to write. It’s the story of Greg Gaines, a teenage boy who does his best to blend into the background at school... that is, until his mother ruins everything by thrusting him into the spotlight when she forces him to become friends with Rachel, a girl who’s dying of leukemia. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and his friend Earl (two of the most delightful jerks you’re ever likely to meet) decide to make a film for her. What ends up being the “Worst Film Ever Made” also ends up being a turning point in both of their lives.

This is one of the funniest, rudest, and most honest books I’ve ever read. Jesse Andrews does an amazing job of depicting the lows of high school life, and he doesn’t for a second give in to the temptation to force some kind of beautiful message about life and/or death down our throats—as books with this kind of plot tend to do. After all, in real life, when people die tragically and way too young, it mostly just sucks. End of story. That said, there’s so much humour and subtle hope here that you won’t close the cover feeling like a wrung out dishrag, either. Warning: There’s a description in this book that totally ruined hummus for me. I may never eat it again.

Monster Trucks: High Octane Machines that Crush, Crash and Roar! by Nancy W. Cortelyou

I read this book every day... sometimes several times. It’s just that good! Okay, not really... but I have a three-year-old son. And because I believe whole-heartedly that kids should always be allowed to choose their own books, I’ve condemned myself to the near constant reading of this particular work of non-fiction. (I mean, I like monster trucks—they’re so crazy and huge and sometimes they’ve got flames shooting out the back!—but nobody likes them that much... unless they’re a three-year-old boy.) Fact: There’s a monster truck that’s shaped like a giant lobster. It’s called Crushstation. Amazing, right?
Visit Anna Humphrey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue