Visiting Author for Schools: Brendan Kiely
DATE OF SCHOOL VISIT
Friday, February 24, 2017 (Brendan will visit two schools; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.)
WHY HOST BRENDAN? From Brendan: "As a teacher and a writer, I think stories should be entertaining; characters, their desires and conflicts, should always come first--as John Gardner suggested, a writer's job is to construct a uninterrupted dream the reader experiences from the first to the final page. I strive to write those vivid, memorable dreams, and for me, the dreams I appreciate most are the ones that help me reflect on what it means to be a human being in my society today--dreams that ask the oldest and most important questions--who am I and what am I supposed to do now? So for me, writing fiction is an act of social engagement. I want my work to participate in relevant cultural conversations. As a high school teacher, I was always on the hunt for books I could use in my classes that would excite my students and help them better learn the skills we needed to study and practice in our English classes, but also, and even more importantly, I wanted to find books that would inspire my students to take seriously and think critically about their role as citizens in our society today--books that would help them reflect on who they are and what they believe. I write with the same principles at heart. I write stories that try to honor the dignity and grace of people caught up in the complexities of our day. Ultimately, I write in search of hope."
ABOUT THE BOOK: Last True Love Story
From the critically acclaimed author of The Gospel of Winter and the coauthor of All American Boys comes a cool, contemplative spin on hot summer nights and the classic teen love story as two teens embark on a cross-country journey of the heart and soul. "The point of living is learning how to love." That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure. The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is. And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her. One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.
Praise for Last True Love Story
“Brendan Kiely’s writing soars off the page, ultimately landing someplace between heartwarming and heart-aching (but definitely somewhere in the heart). Here is a book about music, friendship, first and final loves, and all the blue notes in between. Indeed, Last True Love Story may be exactly that.” -- David Arnold, bestselling author of Mosquitoland
“As cool as it is tender, this poignant story about the power of love thrums with classic rock and aches with honesty. I was so moved by Hendrix’s journey and, as a brown girl who loves music, I was completely invested in Corrina--one of my new favorite characters in all of YA. Authentic and beautifully written, Last True Love Story will truly capture your heart." -- Jasmine Warga, author of My Heart And Other Black Holes
“A beautiful, searing journey into the American heartland. This book, like an epic road trip, is full of difficult truths, great music, and deeply human companions.” -- Daniel José Older, award-winning author of Shadowshaper and the Bone Street Rumba series.
"Genuine, thoughtful, and heartbreaking, Last True Love Story is the kind of book that kickstarts an awakening in your soul and will resonate with readers for years to come." -- Julie Murphy, New York Times Bestselling author of Dumplin' and Side Effects May Vary
“Some authors write with their hearts first and their heads second. Some the other way around. But Brendan Kiely manages, as always, to strike a skillful and delicate balance between deep, intellectual coming-of-age and poetic, emotional drama. Last True Love Story stands in a league of its own both in regards to the way it portrays its teenage protagonists and the way it tells the very personal, tragic story of Alzheimer’s. If the point of living is learning how to love, to quote Gpa, then I think we should all start by reading Mr. Kiely’s beautiful novel.” -- John Corey Whaley, Printz and Morris winner, National Book Award finalist, and author of Highly Illogical Behavior and Noggin.
"The Last True Love Story is a tender multigenerational story that’s as much about the meaning of family as it is about falling in love. There’s plenty of delightful adventure, but what I loved most about this book is its respect for moments that can be both quiet and life changing at once.” -- Ava Dellaira, author of Love Letters to the Dead
ABOUT THE BOOK: All American Boys (co-authored by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely)
"As a black man and a white man, both writers and educators, we came together to co-write a book about how systemic racism and police brutality affect the lives of young people in America, in order to create an important, unique, and honest work that would give young people and the people who educate them a tool for having these difficult but absolutely vital conversations.” -- Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Two teens one black, one white grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That's all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad's pleadings that he's stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad's resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad's every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement? There were witnesses: Quinn Collins a varsity basketball player and Rashad's classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team half of whom are Rashad's best friends start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before. Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this four-starred reviews tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brendan Kiely received his MFA from the City College of New York. He is the author, with Jason Reynolds, of the Coretta Scott King Author Honor book All American Boys. His debut novel, The Gospel of Winter, has been published in ten languages, was selected as one of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults 2015, and was a Kirkus Reviews selection for the Best of 2014. He is also the author of Last True Love Story. Originally from the Boston area, he now lives with his wife in Greenwich Village. Find out more at www.BrendanKiely.com.
- Reading group guide for All American Boys
- Dedicated website for All America Boys with discussions, videos, etc.
- Videos on race, writing and making a difference
LENGTH & TOPIC OF PRESENTATION
About 45 minutes long (and can be tweaked longer or shorter if needed). Jason talks about his books and his inspirations.
SCHOOL TYPE & GRADES
High School; grades 9-12
DESIRED # OF STUDENTS
The more, the better.
A microphone and a bottle of water.
Tattered Cover will design an order form that the school should distribute in advance of the author visit, and again on the day of the event to all student attendees.