YA A to Z: Libba Bray
One of my favorite authors, Libba Bray grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and a high school English teacher. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, son, and pets. How’s that for brief? Libba has led a really interesting life, and she has bravely written about most of it on her web site here. Please take the time to read all of it – it explains so much.
You can also learn a lot about Libba by following her friends on Twitter. She is markedly warm-hearted and generous, with a sense of humor to match the most outrageous parts of her writing. I am particularly fond of the story Maureen Johnson tells here about her experiences during Hurricane Sandy, when she was recovering from dental surgery and ended up camping out at Libba’s house.
Libba first came to my attention when her novel Going Bovine won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2010. It is a brilliant fever dream of a book about sixteen year old Cameron, who contracts mad cow disease and goes on a road trip with a talking lawn gnome. Well…it’s a lot more involved than that, but that’s my favorite part. The Printz Award committee is to be commended for recognizing the brilliance of this novel. In fact, all of Libba’s novels are brilliant.
Her next novel, Beauty Queens, is a favorite of mine. It tells the tale of a plane crash involving the contestants of a teen beauty pageant. They make it to an island where they must survive until they are rescued. Unbeknownst to the young ladies, the organizers of the pageant have a secret base on the island and are spying on them surreptitiously. With all of this as a background, the novel really explores what it means to be a teenage girl in today’s culture, with the myriad of societal pressures, parental expectations, and personal goals coming at them from every direction.
Libba’s latest release, The Diviners, takes place in the New York City of 1926 and features the exuberant Evie O’Neill, who has been sent to live with her Uncle as her family have no idea what to do with her. You see, Evie has a supernatural power that she hasn’t been the best at keeping under wraps, and it’s gotten her into a world of trouble. Once in New York Evie becomes fast friends with a diverse cast of characters, each with a more interesting back story than the last. Incredibly complex, this is a chill inducing tale of supernatural forces and grisly murders. To be honest, I had to listen to it in the car on a long, sunny trip. *shivers* You should check out the book trailer here, and the entire web site for the series here. I’m really looking forward to the next installment!
Libba has stories in a number of anthologies, and also wrote The Gemma Doyle trilogy, which you can read all about here. You can follow Libba on Twitter @libbabray or on Tumblr, Facebook, or Instagram.
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About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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