One more interruption to Summer Reading posts, to share my remarks about the forthcoming ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, that I gave at the Scholastic Literary Luncheon at ALA in Washington, D.C. last weekend, June 23, 2019.
There were five of us reading: Amy Sarig King, Sharon Robinson, Da Chen, Raina Telgemeier, and me, each of us with a new novel about to be published. (You can find out more about them and their new books at the links.)
It was a fabulous afternoon spent with lovely school librarians who took galleys from each of the five books with them. I felt so lucky to spend time with my four colleagues and my Scholastic family, as well as our moderator, Paige Battle.
Along with my remarks I showed some stills from ANTHEM. Here they are, in the order I presented them, remarks interspersed. I can’t wait for y’all to hold the actual book in your hands! As teachers said in our signing line, over and over, “We’ve been waiting forever for this book!” Me, too. I hope you love it. xoxo Debbie
The year I was 17
I “had a moment” with Socrates,
thanks to a philosophically-minded English teacher.
A bestie of mine – also 17 – gave me a Bible that year,
to remember her by.
She inscribed her name in the front of it: “from Jan.”
I still have that Bible.
We lived in the Philippines, at Clark Air Force Base.
My dad flew C-141 Starlifters into Vietnam with supplies,
and out of Vietnam with bodies,
and although I was just as caught up in the feelings
of teenage spiritual fervor as my friend was,
I also felt something else vital and important stirring in me,
courtesy of my new friend, Socrates.
So I opened that Bible and wrote on the inside cover:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
And then I went off to examine life.
I rode on this bus:
And I’m told I had a really good time. 🙂
And now there is Anthem, a story about those late-sixties years,
and what I didn’t know then – so much I didn’t know –
and what I came to understand
in my quest and pursuit of wisdom,
through Socrates’ methods of
questioning and logical argument,
by examining and by thinking –
A life-long quest,
and very much still underway.
In Anthem, teenage cousins Molly and Norman are on this quest as well, whether they know it or not, as they travel across the country from Charleston, South Carolina to San Francisco, California, in an old school bus, on their way to find Molly’s brother – Norman’s cousin – who left home under dire circumstances the year before and now has been drafted.
Molly – who is 14 and opinionated –
and Norman — who is 17 and long-suffering –
spend tons of time on their trip arguing with each other –
furiously defending their points of view,
frustrated, exhilarated, exhausted, lost, found,
and totally missing the point,
in what my ardently enthusiastic husband
(who has just read the novel for the first time) calls
“a buddy novel,
a quest novel,
a coming-of-age novel,
and a road novel – ALL IN ONE! “
Socrates, I thought, as I wrote it this book,
would be proud.
And appalled. hahaha!
BUT! Along the way, Molly and Norman,
and those they pick up and drop off,
They shift their points of view.
They come into new understandings.
They learn and grow and become bigger than they were:
And — there is a lot of rock and roll.
Molly – the emotion machine — loves the Association:
Norman – who longs to be a rock-and-roll drummer and
get out of high school marching band –
loves Iron Butterfly:
Anthem is a love letter to America in 1969,
and a challenge to young people today.
It is BOOK 3 of the Sixties trilogy,
written in the same documentary format as
Countdown and Revolution, asking the same question as those books do – and perhaps,
the same question Socrates posited,
in his own wise way,
so many years ago:
Are you on the bus, or off the bus?