New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.
When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
In suburban Kansas City, I began as a child poet and grew into a journalist. I was the editor of my junior-high and high-school newspapers. I went on to study journalism at the University of Kansas and law at the University of Michigan Law School.
Along the way, I had a ton of jobs. I worked as a popcorn popper at a movie theater, a cashier at a gas station, a waitress at a Mexican restaurant, a switchboard operator for a bank, a telemarketer, and a receptionist for a small law firm. I served as a reporting intern for various small-town papers and the Dallas Morning News as well as a marketing intern for a greeting-card company in Kansas City, an oil company in Oklahoma, and a nonprofit organization in Topeka. I also held summer/semester clerkships at a judge’s office in Kansas, a small women’s-rights firm in Michigan, and a legal aid in Hawaii.
After graduation I moved to Chicago, where I worked briefly in the law office of the Department of Health and Human Services. But after six months (and a long talk with some ducks in Lake Michigan), I quit my day job to write full time. I eventually relocated and settled in Austin.
I love to literally plunge into my fictional worlds.
For Tantalize, I went house shopping for my characters, confessed my intentions to the realtors, and walked away with floor plans and photos. At the local coffee shop, I tapped hirsute folks on the shoulder and asked if I could take pictures of them to use as models for shape-shifters. I also made a point to dine at every Italian restaurant in Austin.
For the New York Times best-selling novel Eternal, I walked every Chicago street that my characters did, trying to see the landscape anew through their eyes. I made notes about the sounds, the smells, the chill in the air. The ink in my pen froze on Navy Pier, and I ended up cutting that scene anyway.
For the Feral trilogy, I strolled ash-strewn acres of Texas that had been ravaged by wildfires and spent hours at Austin’s rescue zoo communing with lions.
Hearts Unbroken was more of a journey into memory. I had to revisit being a teen journalist whose editorials sometimes crossed swords with suburban Kansas sensibilities. I had to reflect on what it felt like to navigate Native identity on every level, sometimes in the face of bigotry, while also seeking joy and celebrating daily life, culture, and community.
What I love most about being a young adult author is hearing from young adult readers!
I’m happy to answer questions about my novels and to recommend additional books by other authors.