Wednesday, May 2, 2018

0 Brendan Kiely, author of TRADITION, on being inspired by items in the news

We're pleased to have Brendan Kiely join us to share more about his latest novel, TRADITION.

Brendan, what was your inspiration for writing TRADITION?

When I saw how brave Emma Sulkowicz was, dragging her mattress across the Columbia University campus, taking it with her to graduation, not letting the school sweep her sexual assault under the rug, and later after Donald Trump dismissed his vulgar, violent language about women as "locker room talk" I saw a photo of a boys' high school football team wearing Wild Feminist t-shirts with a caption beneath it that said "not in our locker room," I was inspired to write straight into the heart of the deeply entrenched attitudes of misogyny in our culture that enable too much violence and harassment against women--and in particular, I wanted to write about the strong young women who have been standing up to it for so long, and the young men who have the courage to listen and stand with them.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I love this question so much, because I can't write without reading as much as I can and trying to learn as much as I can from so many other books. I hope readers who read Kathleen Glasgow's Girl in Pieces, or Renee Watson's Piecing Me Together, or Adam Hartzler's What We Saw or Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, would find my book in conversation with these phenomenal books I deeply admire, books that present questions about identity, hope, resilience and the pursuit of truth with crystal clear reality.

What are you working on now?

This is always the hardest question because sometimes you don't even know what you are working on--especially when you are still in the middle of it. But I have to say, I'm really bent out of shape thinking about how the exponential growth of the income inequality gap is affecting young people, a reality that looks more and more like a YA dystopia. I'm writing, but I'm not sure what it is exactly--is it reality or dystopia?


by Brendan Kiely
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 5/1/2018

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

Purchase Tradition at Amazon
Purchase Tradition at IndieBound
View Tradition on Goodreads


Brendan Kiely is The New York Times bestselling author of All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), The Last True Love Story, and The Gospel of Winter. His work has been published in ten languages, received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, the Walter Dean Myers Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, and was selected as one of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults. Originally from the Boston area, he now lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.


Have you had a chance to read TRADITION yet? Are your storied inspired by things you see happening in our world? What things have you learned from reading other books? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Charlotte, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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