Permanent Record

Available now: my new YA novel, Permanent Record (Skyscape, 2013). In post-9/11 America, a bullied Muslim teenager retaliates against his tormentors—with dangerous results. Praise for Permanent Record Selected as the 2014-15 teen title for the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year  Selected by...

Leslie Stella

Oh wow! I can’t tell you how happy and proud I am that Permanent Record was chosen as the teen title for the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year program 2014-15! Similar to Chicago’s One Book program, Suburban Mosaic serves a consortium of suburban school districts and libraries in northern Illinois. This reading list selects books that highlight issues of racial and social justice and that strive to break down the barriers between people. I will be doing events and programs over …

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Under the radartop comments

Recently, I read this review of Permanent Record (the audiobook, narrated masterfully by the wondrous Nick Podehl). The reviewer had thanked another blogger for turning her on to my novel, and that blogger commented that she loved it too, adding, “I feel like this book is so under the radar.” That is a gentler way of saying, “No one has ever heard of it.” Damn. That is sad. But it’s a fitting place for me, under the radar. It’s where I’ve …

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Learner’s Permittop comments

The raccoon hit us; that much I know. It ambled across the street in that idle, diffident way of raccoons and stopped directly in our path. Shrewd, glinting eyes reflected our headlights’ glare, and then it turned, gunning for us. By God, it knew what it was doing. I turned the steering wheel to the left slightly, hoping to circumvent carnage, but my father grabbed it and jerked me back to center. “Never veer from your course!” he screamed. I …

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They sat next to me on the plane. She towered over him. That’s always kind of cool when you see that. But maybe not for the guy. I don’t know. Do guys like their girlfriends towering over them? The woman strapped these Velcro magnet bracelets on and the guy squeezed her wrists. Pressure points. Told her to relax and breathe. Scared of flying. People think there are bracelets for everything. Maybe there are. Once we were airborne, she collapsed into …

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Tom Waits in My Fridge

Quiz: Are the things listed below items in my refrigerator, or titles of Tom Waits songs? Yesterday’s Sandwich Bottle of Champagne for a Celebration That Never Happened This Old Carton of Milk 16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six Caroline’s Last Strawberry Thermometer Always Stuck at 40 Unhatched Eggs Chocolates from a Friend Bone-Dry Blood Oranges Half-Drunk Guinness

 

I am sweatpants

I’d like to blame it on the weather, but I don’t think that’s really it. But I have taken to slobbing around in sweatpants in public for some weeks now (see Costanza, George). Not leggings or yoga pants. Shapeless, drawstring, Target sweatpants. I care, but let’s face it: if I cared that much, I’d make an effort to pull myself together. Sometimes I stop to pick up coffee after I drop my kids off at school, and I stand in …

 

“In the Margins” Award list

I’m so proud that Permanent Record was chosen as one of 25 titles for the “In the Margins” Book Award list, an award presented by Library Services for Youth in Custody. This award’s charge is to seek out and highlight fiction and nonfiction titles of high-interest appeal to marginalized youth, ages 9-21. Books chosen for the awards list reflect difficult situations, African-American and Latino protagonists, life in restrictive custody, or are books that cater to reluctant readers. Of Permanent Record, the …

 

The Ghost of the Backlist

The ghost of my backlist is haunting me. My adult fiction from 2005, Unimaginable Zero Summer (Crown), is now available on Kindle for $2.99 from Amazon. Can you relate to people who have been sleepwalking through life since their high school graduation? An unemployed man who lives with his parents and fancies himself an urban shaman? A thrift-store-obsessed bookstore clerk? A “vampire lifestylist”? A karaoke DJ? As one reviewer put it, “I haven’t felt a book speaking to me so …

 

Poor Leno – Röyksopp

Oh, how I love this gorgeous song, this beautiful, depressing video. Plus there’s a headbanging polar bear.

 

Thrift Stores and Broken Hearts

allman

Today I am an empty shell that can be filled only with cookies. It seemed like a good idea at 7 p.m. last night to start baking a few batches, even though by 8 p.m. most nights I am ready to fall to the floor in despair. I hunted through our hellhole of a basement until I found my old cookie press ($2.50—garage sale). My kids wanted hearts. You know, for Valentine’s Day. They also want a box full of …