Lauren Myracle (1969–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1969; Education: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, B.A. (English and psychology); Colorado State University, M.A. (English); Vermont College, M.F.A. (writing). Hobbies and other interests: Reading, going on walks, playing with her children, watching movies.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Dutton Childrens/Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
Writer. Formerly worked as a middle-school teacher in the United States and Japan.
Phi Beta Kappa.
American Library Association (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults designation, and Booklist Top-Ten Youth Romances includee, both 2004, both for Kissing Kate; ALA Quick Pick, for TTYL.
Joyride, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Kissing Kate (young-adult novel), Dutton's (New York, NY), 2003.
Eleven (middle-grade novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
TTYL (Talk to You Later) (young-adult novel), Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.
The Fashion Disaster That Changed My Life, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Rhymes with Witches, Amulet Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of articles and short fiction to periodicals, including ALAN Review and Cicada.
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Focusing her writing on the tumultuous middle-school and high-school years, Lauren Myracle is the author of several highly praised novels. While most of her books, such as Kissing Kate, TTYL, and Rhymes with Witches, are geared for teen readers, the 2004 novel Eleven is aimed directly at the middle-grade reader. The novel chronicles the life of "Tween" Winnie Perry as she begins to realign friendships with her changing interests, gets a pet, and creates problems when she boasts to friends of having a temporary boyfriend on St. Valentine's Day. In Publishers Weekly a critic dubbed Eleven a "lighthearted and well-observed novel," while in Kirkus Reviews a contributor cited the work as a book that "rings with preteen truth." Also enthusiastic about Eleven, School Library Journal contributor Tina Zubak noted that the novel's "occasional revelation of [life's] harder truths … lifts it out of the ordinary."
Written for older readers, Kissing Kate focuses on the friendship of Lissa and Kate, two girls who have been best buds since seventh-grade gym class. Now in high school, their friendship meets a sudden end when a set of circumstances result in a passionate kiss. While Kate deals with the event by avoiding Lissa, Lissa views the kiss much more seriously; in addition to being confused over Kate's sudden rejection and feeling hurt over the sudden loss of her best friend, Lissa also realize that she needs to examine her own sexuality. Fortunately, a new friendship with the unconventional and nonjudgmental Ariel gives Lissa the opportunity to talk about her mixed feelings.
Reviewing Kissing Kate in Kliatt, Michele Winship wrote that Myracle's "sensitive coming-of-age story speaks honestly," and Nancy Garden echoed that assessment in her Lambda Book Report review. Kissing Kate is a "solid, honest book," wrote Garden, adding that the novel delves into "complicated adolescent sexuality, with all its intensity, doubts and drama." While noting the story's serious subject matter, Hazel Rochman commented in a Booklist appraisal that teen readers will enjoy Myracle's "lively realistic story about friends and lovers," while in Publishers Weekly a critic added that "the author's sophisticated, supportive and unusually candid approach to sexual orientation" will reward readers.
For computer-savvy readers, the title of TTLY signals that Myracle's second YA novel focuses on instant messaging; "TTYL" is e-mail shorthand for "Talk to you later." In the novel tenth graders Angela, Zoe, and Maddie keep up with one another's adolescent ups and downs via IM's, and the novel is composed entirely of keyboarding dialogue, complete with typesetting characters such as smiley faces and other e-mail shorthand. Through their correspondence, Myracle illustrates the joys and frustrations of teen friendship: the girls band together when Angela breaks up with one of a series of no-good boyfriends and split apart when Zoe's growing Christian zeal makes Maddie uncomfortable. Honest advice helps steer Zoe clear when the English teacher she has been crushing on suddenly exhibits a nonacademic interest, and also coaches Maddie when she decides to make friends with one of the "bad girls" in the sophomore class. Noting Myracle's "creative" approach, a Publishers Weekly contributor described TTYL as "an engaging, quick read," while a Kirkus reviewer wrote that, despite its casual format, the novel serves as a "surprisingly poignant tale of friendship, change, and growth." Praising the novel as "both revealing and innovative," School Library Journal contributor Francisca Goldsmith added that each of the three girls' "voice is fully realized and wonderfully realistic," despite the fact that their dialogue is written rather than spoken.
While once again mining high school relationships, Myracle adds an element of mystery in her 2005 teen novel Rhymes with Witches. An incoming freshman at Crestview Academy, Janie dreams of being a part of the Bitches: a small band composed of Mary Bryan, Bitsy, and Keisha, who pretty much rule the school. While in most schools Janie's dream might be mere fantasy, at Crestview it can and does become reality: every year the ruling Bitches clique select a frumpy fellow student and remake her in their image. This year it is Janie's turn to become swanlike, but when she realizes that black magic is part of the transformation she must decide how much popularity is really worth. Employing what Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg described as an "unexpected blend of horror, fantasy, and dark comedy," Rhymes with Witches was described by a Publishers Weekly reviewer as "an addictive read with a poignant message about the price of popularity," and in Kirkus a reviewer found it "darkly comic, well realized and upsetting." In addition to the magical elements surfacing in Myracle's work, Engberg praised the novel for exploring, with clarity, the "raw, realistic portrayal of brutal high-school bullying."
Myracle told Something about the Author: "When I was little, I read constantly: in the car, at the park, at the dinner table, under the covers with a flashlight held between my knees. My favorite books were Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and James Clavell's King Rat, which some might say was a wildly inappropriate pick for a ten year old, but which I found utterly engrossing. (I'm not too swayed by the 'appropriateness' argument, even now. Books are supposed to make kids think; they're supposed to open kids' eyes to new ways of looking at things.)
"Because I loved books so much, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. And I always knew I wanted to write about kids, because they're so damn interesting. I figured that maybe college was the place to make that dream happen. But at the University of North Carolina, where I received by bachelor's degree, I was told that I wasn't good enough to take the advanced creative writing class. Next I earned a master's degree at Colorado State University, where again I was told that I wasn't good enough to take a graduate-level creative writing class. Good heavens, girl! Give it up, will you?
"But no. My husband gave me the best piece of writing advice I've ever received, which was this: The only way to guarantee you won't be a writer is to quit. I thought, 'You know what? He's right.' And so I kept writing. And writing. And writing. I got an MFA in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College, where I finally found a group of fellow writers who thought it was normal—even (gasp!) rewarding—to write about kids instead of adults, and who didn't automatically label such writing as 'not good enough.' (Oh, fine. By that point, I'd probably just gotten better. I hope so, anyway!).
"After five failed attempts at novels and 118 rejections, my first book was at last accepted for publication, and five years later I'm still going strong. Wh-hoo! As for all those folks who told me I wasn't good enough: guess what? I did it anyway!"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Kissing Kate, p. 1972; April 15, 2004, Kathleen Odean, review of Eleven, p. 1443; May 15, 2004, John Green, review of TTYL, p. 1615; March 15, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Rhymes with Witches, p. 1284.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2004, Karen Coats, review of TTYL, p. 430.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of Eleven, p. 39; March 1, 2004, review of TTYL, p. 228; March 1, 2005, review of Rhymes with Witches, p. 292.
Kliatt, March, 2003, Michele Winship, review of Kissing Kate, p. 14; March, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of TTYL, p. 15; March, 2005, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Rhymes with Witches, p. 14.
Lambda Book Report, August-September, 2003, Nancy Garden, review of Kissing Kate, p. 34.
Publishers Weekly, March 17, 2003, review of Kissing Kate, p. 77; January 23, 2004, review of Eleven, p. 54; March 1, 2004, review of TTYL, p. 71; May 9, 2005, review of Rhymes with Witches, p. 72.
School Library Journal, April, 2003, Mary Ann Carchich, review of Kissing Kate, p. 166; February, 2004, review of Eleven, p. 1540; April, 2004, review of TTYL, p. 158.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2004, Jenny Ingram, review of TTYL, p. 134.
Lauren Myracle Home Page, http://www.laurenmyracle.com (July 19, 2005).
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