Friday, November 21, 2014

Jen Nadol

Jen Nadol grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania and graduated from American University with a BA in literature. She's lived in Washington DC, Boston, NYC and now, an old farmhouse north of the city with her husband and three sons. When she's not writing, she's probably tending to the farmhouse or the sons, reading, cooking, skiing, or sleeping.

Her new book is This Is How It Ends.

Recently I asked Nadol about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m reading two middle grade books right now, unusual in that I rarely read MG or more than one book at a time.

The first is Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord which I bought several months ago, thinking my ten year old might like it. He hadn’t picked it up so I started reading it aloud to my two younger sons who are riveted by the story of a group of homeless children living in an abandoned movie theater in Venice. We’re about halfway through and I think the story is about to take a turn for the speculative with the item the children are going to steal. It’s a wonderful book to read aloud because the writing is so graceful and the author has really taken time to paint vividly both the characters and the cold, damp atmosphere of Venice as winter approaches.

The other book is Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Found, the first book in The Missing series. I picked it up at my sons’ school when I found myself waiting there one day without a book to read. The librarian had told me about the series and the premise was intriguing: a plane full of babies mysteriously appears at an airport. Thirteen years later, adopted children start getting anonymous notes that they are “the missing”. I’m almost finished with this one and it really is a fabulous idea, with a fast-paced plot.

Both are successful, engaging stories, but in very different ways. My ten year old has now finished and enjoyed both books, but preferred the action-packed storyline of Found while I really love the depth of description and development of setting and character in The Thief Lord. I lean toward the latter in my own writing and would love to strengthen the former. So, as a writer, it’s been interesting and instructive to read these books side-by-side and make note of each author’s choices and how the different audiences - my son (the intended audience) and I (an adult reader) - respond to them.
Visit Jen Nadol's website.

--Marshal Zeringue