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From the acclaimed author of The Boys of My Youth and Festival Days, a “mesmerizing… beautifully written” debut novel that evokes the wrenching, exquisite moment just before we step into adulthood (Ann Patchett).The fourteen-year-old narrator of In Zanesville is a late bloomer. She flies under the radar — a sidekick, a marching-band dropout, a disastrous babysitter. Luckily, she has a best friend with whom she shares the everyday adventures of a 1970s American girlhood, incidents through which a world is revealed and character is forged. In time, the two girls' friendship is tested — by their families' claims on them, by a clique of popular girls who stumble upon them, and by their first startling, subversive intimations of womanhood. With dry wit and piercing observation, Jo Ann Beard shows us that in the seemingly quiet streets of America's innumerable Zanesvilles is a universe of wonders, and that within the souls of the awkward and the overlooked often burns something radiant. "Probably my favorite novel of the year...A marvelous reading experience...I don't think I'll ever forget the unnamed, perfectly realized narrator of In Zanesville." —Nancy Pearl, NPR
Jo Ann Beard is the author of the essay collections The Boys of My Youth and Festival Days. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, The Best American Essays, and other magazines and anthologies. She has received a Whiting Foundation Award and nonfiction fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.