The May LibraryReads list has just been announced, and librarians across the country have chosen Bryn Chancellor's Sycamore as one of their favorite books coming out in May. We're always excited when a debut author makes the list, but no one is as excited as Bryn herself. Check out the delightful message below from the author to librarians everywhere.
Having librarians choose Sycamore as a top book to read feels a little like a rock star pulled me onstage and belted out my favorite song. I’m a bit star-struck, giddy, barfy, the drumbeat and reverb high in my cheeks. Because, librarians? You’re cool. Like, cool cool. You with your facts and information, your smarts and hearts, guardians of free expression, champions of books, readers extraordinaire.
I was a reader long before I was a writer, the kid tucked away in the corners of the small public library in my small hometown, or under the covers as the summer’s long light waned. My mom always likes to tell the story of how I surprised her by reading a note aloud when I was around three years old. Startled, she said, “I didn’t know you could read,” and I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yeah.” In some ways, that’s how reading still feels: like something I have always known how to do. Yet it also stands out as one of the saving graces of my life, the act to which I have turned again and again to find solace, to escape, to expand and enrich my mind. Reading is simultaneously the most ordinary and the most wildly magic habit of my life.
The habits of reading also sidled their way into the fictional world of Sycamore. Jess Winters, a teenage girl who goes missing, is a reader, obsessed with lines and words—Frankenstein to Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay—that get stuck in her head, a habit that I’ll confess is a bit close to home. Jess and her best friend, Dani Newell, first connect over Maus, their assigned history text. Esther Genoways, the town’s former high school English teacher, shares poems and art and hands off books and advice. Since readers and books were everywhere in my life, I suppose it’s no wonder I can’t imagine a world without them.
I’m often told, and I accept, that I write about ordinary people, though I do find myself questioning what we mean by ordinary and why that strikes us as notable. Nonetheless, one of my favorite responses to the book so far is that it made the reader see the full poetic inner lives of ordinary people, and that after he finished it, he had started writing poetry in the mornings. My goodness, yes. How might the world look if we all began our mornings with poems?
Librarians, you beloved, badass rock stars, thank you forever for this wicked guitar riff in my heart, but more importantly for your work in putting books into people’s hands.
Thank you so much, Bryn, for sharing those lovely words. And also a great round of applause for making the Top 10 LibraryReads list! Librarians, if you haven't yet read this stunning coming-of-age story, mystery, and moving exploration of the elemental forces that drive human nature, there's still time to request the egalley from Edelweiss.