Guest host Clairemont author T. Greenwood (The Golden Hour) celebrated Jesse Edward Johnson’s debut: “Lester Smith, the unlikely hero of this coming-of age story, captivates even as he infuriates. He’s snarky and smart and will totally break your heart. For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Yearbook is your next favorite read.” Jesse is an artist, whose works include author portraits made of text and combining his writing (in regular type) and quotation (in italics). The result is a dialogue, of a kind, between the subject of the portrait and Jesse.
t's 1996, senior year of high school has just begun, and Lester is at a total loss. He should be studying and making plans for life after graduation. (His best friend, Freesia, is applying to 37 colleges.) Instead, he wanders the back roads of his small town on the Puget Sound, visiting the local beaches and ignoring all his schoolwork. His father recently abandoned the family, his mother is more than slightly distracted, and his younger sister, Grace, is finding it hard to adjust to both their new family situation and ninth grade.
But Lester is smart and funny, and despite his general apathy, he does feel strongly about a few things: he loves his friends, Milton's Paradise Lost, the Ramones, and "the yearbook arts," as he calls them. Eventually he even comes to appreciate Mr. Traversal, the new Yearbook teacher who prefers that students call him by his first name, Jeff. When Lester and Jeff run afoul of the school's insufferable interim principal, they come up with a plan to create an "underground yearbook." This renegade project and Jeff's unlikely mentorship provide the spark that helps Lester to accept his past and to give his future a second chance.
From bright new talent Jesse Edward Johnson comes this hilarious and moving debut novel about learning to believe in yourself again. Whether you have yet to start high school or you graduated decades ago, you re sure to love Yearbook and the whip-smart Lester Smith.
On a spring afternoon long ago, thirteen-year-old Wyn Davies took a shortcut through the woods in her New Hampshire hometown and became a cautionary tale. Now, twenty years later, she lives in New York, on the opposite side of a duplex from her ex, with their four-year-old daughter shuttling between them. Wyn makes her living painting commissioned canvases of birch trees to match her clients furnishings. But the nagging sense that she has sold her artistic soul is soon eclipsed by a greater fear. Robby Rousseau, who has spent the past two decades in prison for a terrible crime against her, may be released based on new DNA evidence unless Wyn breaks her silence about that afternoon. To clear her head, refocus her painting, and escape an even more present threat, Wyn agrees to be temporary caretaker for a friend s new property on a remote Maine island. The house has been empty for years, and in the basement Wyn discovers a box of film canisters labeled Epitaphs and Prophecies. Like time capsules, the photographs help her piece together the life of the house s former owner, an artistic young mother, much like Wyn. But there is a mystery behind the images too, and unraveling it will force Wyn to finally confront what happened in those woods and perhaps escape them at last. A compelling and evocative novel with an unsettling question at its heart, T. Greenwood's The Golden Hour explores the power of art to connect, to heal, and to reveal our most painful and necessary truths.