Gayle Forman is an American young adult author.
Woodson’s memoir in verse spans some revolutionary history—the Civil Rights movement, witnessed from Greenville, South Carolina—but equally compelling is the revolution within, when Woodson discovers the power of words and story. Maybe most telling, when I finished reading it, my 10-year-old picked it up, and devoured it.
Also recommended by: Christopher Paul Curtis
National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a childs soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodsons eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Praise for Jacqueline Woodson: Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story . . . but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery.The New York Times Book Review
What can be possibly said of the plight of young, hip Brookynites that hasn’t already been said before? Yet Offill’s slim book manages to find a fresh take, chronicling the life of a young couple through love, marriage, children, betrayal and back again, by letting what goes unsaid speak the loudest.
Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all. Jenny Offills heroine, referred to in these pages as simply the wife, once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophesa colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitionsthe wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art. With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will linger long after the last page. Review "Exquisitely honed and vibrant...Offill's lean prose and the addition of astute quotations prevent the text from becoming just one more story of an infidelity...The reader easily identifies with [the narrator's] struggles and frustrations...An enlightened choice for a reading group." - Library Journal "A heartbreaking and exceptional book by a writer who doesn't settle for less - I've been longing for a new novel from Jenny Offill since her stunning Last Things, and it was worth every bit of the wait. Sad, funny, philosophical, at once deeply poetic and deeply engaging, this is a brilliant, soulful elegy to the hardships and joys of married life." - Lydia Millet "Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation resembles no book I've read before. If I tell you that it's funny, and moving, and true; that it's as compact and mysterious as a neutron; that it tells a profound story of love and parenthood while invoking (among others) Keats, Kafka, Einstein, Russian cosmonauts, and advice for the housewife of 1896, will you please simply believe me, and read it?" - Michael Cunningham "Dept. of Speculation is gorgeous, funny, a profound and profoundly moving work of art. Jenny Offill is a master of form and feeling, and she gets life on the page in new, startling ways." - Sam Lipsyte "Dept. of Speculation is a deep, funny, and beautifully written novel. It is a moving and intelligent story of a specific marriage, but it is also very much about how it feels to be alive right now. Jenny Offill perfectly captures the absurdities and ironies of our moment." - Dana Spiotta About the Author Jenny Offill is the author of the novel Last Things, which was chosen as a notable or best book of the year by The New York Times, The Village Voice, and The Guardian. It was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award. Her short fiction has appeared in Story, Epoch, Boulevard, Significant Objects, and Electric Literature, among other places. Her children's books include 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 11 Experiments That Failed. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and now teaches in the writing programs at Brooklyn College and Columbia University.
The ingenious structure of this book—two narrative timelines, one of them told backwards—infuses the work with a creepy tension, as do the settings: Australia’s outback and an unnamed island off the coast of Britain where sheep are mysteriously dying. The book I’ve most recommended this year.
"Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods? Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It's just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags. It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake's unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back. Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman's present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice."