By Jo Ann Beard
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316084475, 304pp.)
Publication Date: April 2011
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The beguiling fourteen-year-old narrator of IN ZANESVILLE is a late bloomer. She is used to flying under the radar-a sidekick, a third wheel, a marching band dropout, a disastrous babysitter, the kind of girl whose Eureka moment is the discovery that "fudge" can't be said with an English accent.
Luckily, she has a best friend, a similarly undiscovered girl 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, their friendship is tested-- by their families' claims on them, by a clique of popular girls who stumble upon them as if they were found objects, and by the 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 world of wonders, and that within the souls of the awkward and the overlooked often burns something radiant and unforgettable.
Jo Ann Beard is the author of a collection of autobiographical essays, The Boys of My Youth. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Essays, and other magazines and anthologies. She received a Whiting Foundation Award and nonfiction fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
In her new novel, In Zanesville, writer Jo Anne Beard tells the story of two 9th grade girls, struggling to deal with life in a small town and pressure from the 'popular kids.' More at NPR.org
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PRAISE FOR IN ZANESVILLE:
"A fierce, funny, brave, and bracingly honest new novel....Every bit as poignant and powerful as The Catcher in the Rye."
"An exuberant first novel....Beard has a knack for melding the funny and the sad, amplifying small moments into something big."
-New York Times
"Masterfully wrought...this novel is at times downright hilarious and often hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best suspenseful. The restraint with which Beard deploys moments of tension and humor makes each page glimmer."
"Epic and profound. These thoughtful, funny, awestruck, slightly peculiar girls are so endearing, so painfully true."
"A sure-handed first novel ....It's impossible not to be charmed."
"A smashing coming-of-age story.... Beard is a faultless chronicler of the young and hopeful; readers couldn't ask for a better guide for a trip through the wilds of adolescence."
"Moving.... Beard travels the well-worn road of budding young womanhood with surprising freshness."
"Beard has beautifully captured how a shy but observant girl might interpret the awkwardness and the struggle for acceptance in the high school's perplexing social milieu.... Resonates as a bittersweet remembrance."
"Jo Ann Beard has written a mesmerizing account of a time in a girl's life when every moment, every action, is laden with enormous importance. It is so beautifully written, so perfect in its pitch, that I couldn't put it down."
-author of Run
"Full of charm and wisdom and laugh-out-loud humor, In Zanesville will have readers recalling their own years of wonder and want and fear and doubt. I loved literally every character, every scene."
-author of Once Upon a Time, There Was You
"Beard is a writer of immense talents. In Zanesville is far more than a coming-of-age novel. Our offbeat narrator is spellbinding in her bold vivacity and honesty, an unforgettable character quickly embraced and beloved at the center of our lives."
-author of What Is Left the Daughter
"Beard has a sharp eye, a wry wit, and a warm heart, and in her new book, she has captured perfectly not only a particular era in American life, but an evanescent moment in one beautifully evoked life. I loved this book."
-author of Next
"In Zanesville is told by a narrator attuned to the humor and tragedy around her, battling it with her own desperate logics. This novel is an amazing demonstration of friendship, the most necessary and slippery thing we can possess."
-author of My Abandonment
"A fresh comic voice and a talent for sharp familiarizing place-details."
-Wall Street Journal