Meet Authors & Illustrators

Lauren Myracle

Lauren Myracle

   Lauren Myracle has dedicated her life to understanding the social and emotional needs of young adults. Through her research, her experience as an educator, and her writing, she offers a rare glimpse into the secret world of teenagers.

   Lauren graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in both English and Psychology. After gaining real-world insight into the needs of teenagers as a middle-school teacher, she entered the English graduate program at Colorado State University. Shortly thereafter, Lauren published her first paper, Molding the Minds of the Young: A History of Bibliotherapy as Applied to Children and Young Adults, in The ALAN Review. She then went on to research the needs of young adults and published critical essays and reviews, based on her findings, in Statement and English Education, and also presented her first conference paper, Depiction of Morality in YA Literature: Are Girls Getting the Short End of the Stick?

   Lauren's fascination with critical aspects of children's literature, coupled with her passion to be a writer, pushed her to pursue an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. There she worked with renowned writers such as Norma Fox Mazer, Brock Cole, Marion Dane Bauer, Carolyn Coman, and M.T. Anderson.

   After having several short stories published in the literary journal Cicada, Lauren's first novel, was published to critical acclaim, selected as one of the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults in 2004, and named by Booklist magazine as both a Top Ten Youth Romance and a Top Ten Book by New Writers. Her second book was published in February 2004.

   Lauren's breakout success came with the publication of ttyl, the first-ever novel written entirely in instant messages. The novel captured the imagination of a generation of teenage readers reared with technology, selling over 200,000 copies to date, and brought Lauren into the spotlight as an author at the forefront of her profession. ttyl went on to become a New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Book Sense bestseller. It was named a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers by the American Library Association and was named a Book of the Week by School Library Journal, which also praised it in a starred review for being "Revealing and innovative...will inspire teens to pass it on to their friends...nonnarrative communication can be a great way to tell a story." Her fourth novel, a dark take on the hierarchy of a group of high-school girls titled Rhymes With Witches, was published in Spring 2005. It has been nominated as a Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Lauren's highly anticipated novel ttfn, the sequel to ttyl, will be published in spring 2006.

   Lauren's reputation for knowing exactly what teens want to read, both from an entertainment and an emotional perspective, has grown as she has spoken about her work at numerous conferences and through her appearances on regional morning shows across the country (she is currently an on-call teen expert for Denver's WB news shows).

   Lauren keeps in touch with her readers through her website, www.laurenmyracle.com, and her work has been described by teens as "awesome," "the best ever," and "sooo funny." She was perhaps most pleased, however, by the teenage reader who said of her work, "I can't believe it was written by a (cough, cough) grown-up."

Contributor: Amulet/Abrams Books

 

Reviews

Eleven
Lauren Myracle
   Eleven is not an easy year for Winnie; maybe it's not an easy year for any of us. Poised on the brink of adolescence, Winnie, month by month, experiences the subtly shifting dynamics of old friendships giving way to new ones, as girls grow up at different rates, and in different directions. The jacket flap promises "hilarious adventures" and "crazy ups and downs," but while there is a good deal of humor in each carefully recorded incident in Winnie's year, the tone is nuanced rather than madcap, quietly accurate and insightful rather than exaggerated and zany. Myracle closes in the moment when Winnie realizes that her best friend, Amanda, is embarrassed to be seen playing a favorite game of make-believe with her in the drugstore aisle; when Winnie deepens her crush on her sister's boyfriend, Bo, while he scoops ice cream for her at Baskin-Robbins; when she feels ashamed of her saggy one-piece bathing suit on a weekend trip to the beach; and when she forces herself to invite an unpopular, yearning girl to a family Halloween party. Every detail of a lunchtime Chinese jump rope rivalry is honored with minute, microscopic attention. Occasionally the reader may want a bit more structure and closure than Myracle provides in her kaleidoscope of Winnie's year; when the last page comes, it doesn't feel like the last page--the reader may expect and (and need) something more. But Myracle definitely does justice to the small, painful, poignant moments of adolescence. 2004, Dutton, $16.99. Ages 8 to 12. Claudia Mills, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2005 ; H. W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0-525-47165-0

Exposed: The Fashion Disaster That Changed My Life
Lauren Myracle
   Ali goes to school on the first day of seventh grade in a pair of pants she pulled from the dryer at the last minute. As she stands in front of her new homeroom class, Jeremy Webster points out a pair of underwear sticking to the bottom of her pants leg. The result of this fashion disaster is endless teasing from Jeremy and endless embarrassment for Ali, who was hoping that seventh grade would be her "breakout year." In addition to this drama, Ali struggles with her friend Kathy. Kathy doesn't always seem to act like the true friend she claims to be. Megan rounds out their trio, but when Ali is paired with a member of the "popular group" for a class project, she finds herself torn between friends old and new. The story is told in the first person through Ali's journal entries and IMs. Ali comes across as an authentic and likeable main character whose feelings about friendship and teasing are sure to be shared by middle school readers. 2005, Dutton/Penguin, Ages 10 to 13, $15.99. Reviewer: Mary Loftus (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-525-47222-3

Kissing Kate
Lauren Myracle
   This book covers sensitive subject matter in a tenderhearted manner. The story is about Lissa and Kate, the best of friends for the last four years who are able to finish one another's thoughts and sentences, laugh at anything, and know one another inside and out. Their friendship is abruptly halted because they both share a kiss that was initiated by Kate towards Lissa. The story is written from Lissa's point of view and how she discovers she has feelings that she believes are not normal, according to what she has been raised to believe, until she meets a new friend Ariel and experiments with dream therapy. Ariel teaches Lissa through her actions and kind words that it is okay to have feelings different from the norm and to believe in them too, because what is most important is to love yourself for who you are; don't try to be something you are not. Myracle has created a way of thinking for the readers to help them understand and empathize with how Lissa feels about her homosexuality without passing judgment on her. A great book for teens to read and reminded that it is important to accept and love yourself and to not be afraid of the type of person you may be on the inside, as long as you are true to yourself. Also an important read for adults and/or parents, counselors, teachers to better understand the many different feelings and emotions and frustrations that teens experience. 2003, Dutton Books, $16.99. Ages 13 to 17. Christy Oestreich (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Best Books for Young Adults, 2004 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
   Top 10 Youth First Novels, 2003 ; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
   Top 10 Youth Romances, 2003 ; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Garden State Teen Book Awards, 2006 ; Nominee; Fiction-Grades 9-12; New Jersey
ISBN: 0-525-46917-6

Rhymes with Witches
Lauren Myracle
   Plain Jane Goodwin is a nothing-special freshman until the ultra "it" girls at school tap her to join their group of the most popular girls--The Bitches. What do Bitsy, Keisha, Mary Bryan--and now Jane--have that makes other girls so envious, and that so rivets boys' attention? As the successful author of novels chronicling teen and pre-teen friendships takes on the ever-brutal subject of high school popularity, we learn how the Bitches party, dress, walk and talk, and read their instant message exchanges, reprising the author's use of IM-speak in her well-known book, ttyl. Is ultra-popularity worth its price? If the book's certain answer to that proverbial question is the predictable "no," the unpredictable twist in this race-fast tale is the odd nature of the price itself. The Bitches' secret is a word that rhymes with their name. Yes, it is witchery that sustains coolness and eliminates the ups and downs of ordinary teenage social existence. To stay popular the Bitches siphon off popularity from other girls by stealing innocuous small items from them, like lip balms or barrettes, and passing these things to a nutty religion teacher who offers them up as sacrifices to her collection of female idols, kept in a locked school storeroom. What a relief to learn that high school popularity is the whipped-up illusion we all suspected. If this knowledge does not relieve the pain of being an outcast after Jane quits the group, at least it shows her that the gifts of true friendship--like the boy who, without asking, brings her Krispy Kreme donuts when she is down,--can be the real and sustaining magic in high school life. 2005, Amulet Books, $16.95. Ages 13 up. J. H. Diehl (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0810958597

Ttyl
Lauren Myracle
   It would seem like a perfect and creative premise for a new young adult novel: write a story entirely in the popular, abbreviated "language" of instant messaging. Hundreds of thousands of American teenagers "IM" each other everyday, carrying on live, written conversations via computer. So Lauren Myracle wrote her entire story about three tenth grade girls entirely in instant messages. Even the title follows the pattern--"ttyl" means "talk to you later." The problem is that there is no relief from the shallow, expletive-laden conversation. Constant, abbreviated dialogue leaves no room for thoughtful introspection, probing conversation, character development or even action--only electronic conversation about action, and nearly all of the action discussed relates to sex, anatomy, boys and figuring out how to lie to "the rents" (parents). While ostensibly trying to hold their friendship together through high school, the three girls are disrespectful toward each other, their peers and virtually all adults. Perhaps there are many teens who will identify with mad maddie, SnowAngel and zoegirl. One hopes there are many more who will not. 2004, Amulet, $15.95. Ages 16 up. Karen Leggett (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers, 2005 ; American Library Association YALSA; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, April 2004; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 0-8109-4821-4

 

Added 2005

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If you're interested in reviewing children's and young adult books, then send a resume and writing sample to marilyn@childrenslit.com.

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