The workshop in Dallas yesterday was awesome with 100 folks in attendance. Since I had a few hours between the seminar and my flight back to Houston, I managed to finish another book. Helen Hemphill's first novel LONG GONE DADDY is one of my favorites from this year. Her forthcoming RUNAROUND will definitely be on the 2007 list as well. Sassy is eleven (going on 20 it seems) and desperate to have a love like the ones promised in her Love Confessions magazines. That will be difficult since her older sister Lula seems to have cornered the market on boyfriends and her Daddy is dead set against either of his daughters having a romantic relationship. However, Sassy is determined, especially after a fight with Lula. Sassy will steal Boon, he of the mega-watt smile, right out from under Lula's nose. Following the advice from her magazines (some of which show up on the first page of each chapter in a side bar), Sassy sets out to win the heart of Boon and score her first love.
As in the case of her first novel, what shines here is the VOICE the author creates for her characters. Hemphill deftly gives readers just enough detail to form their own images of Sassy, Lula, Boon, and the other people. The setting, squarely between the era of Elvis and the Beatles, is evoked with small details (like the aforementioned Elvis versus Beatles debate) that will not deter young YA readers. There are so few wonderful books to offer intermediate and younger middle school readers. RUNAROUND, in addition to being a great read, fills a huge void in the field of literature for tweens.
Alas, there is not a cover to be gleaned from Amazon or Titlewave.