David Stahler Jr. Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Education: Middlebury College, B.A., 1994; Dartmouth College, M.A.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
Lyndon Institute (private high school), Lyndon Center, VT, English teacher; writer.
Truesight, Eos (New York, NY), 2004.
A Gathering of Shades, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2005.
A fourth-generation Vermont native, David Stahler, Jr. teaches English literature at an independent high school in addition to being a children's book writer. Stahler made his writing debut with the novel Truesight, "a throught-provoking tale strongly reminiscent of Lois Lowrey's The Giver," according to John Peters of School Library Journal. His second novel, A Gathering of Shades, focuses on the intersection between a boy's grief and the supernatural. Praised for its "fully realized characters" by a Kirkus contributor, Stahler's sophomore effort achieves a depth that raises it "above the formulaic and closer to magic realism," the critic added.
Thirteen-year-old Jacob, the protagonist of Truesight, has grown up blind, as has everyone on his planet as a result of deliberate genetic engineering. However, after a bout with serious headaches, Jacob finds his sight restored, and he is disturbed by what he witnesses around him. Although surrounded by natural beauty, Jacob also witnesses the hypocrisy and immorality of the planet's tightly controlled system. When his ability to see is discovered by the authorities and Jacob is scheduled for sight-removal, he decides to risk his life and leave the safety of his closed society.
Paula Rohrlick, reviewing Truesight in Kliatt, praised the book as a "strong debut," while in Publishers Weekly a critic wrote that, "although the story line can be easily anticipated, Stahler's supple writing and unusual twist should keep readers firmly booked."
In A Gathering of Shades sixteen-year-old Aidan discovers that his grandmother has secretly been feeding ghosts to keep their souls lingering between life and death. After his father passes away, the boy is drawn into the world of dead, devastated by his loss, and finds himself separated from those still living who love him. A Kirkus critic cited the novel as a dark fantasy "closer to magic realism" and praised the "intricate plot" and "fully realized characters." In School Library Journal, Jane Cronkhite noted the parallels to Homer's Odyssey, and called A Gathering of Shades "well written," adding that Stahler's exploration of "issues of grief and recovery" will appeal to "thoughtful teens."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2004, review of Truesight, p. 89; May 15, 2005, review of A Gathering of Shades, p. 596.
Kliatt, January, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Truesight, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2004, review of Truesight, p. 173.
School Library Journal, March, 2004, John Peters, review of Truesight, p. 220; August, 2005, Jane Cronkhite, review of A Gathering of Shades, p. 136.
Green Man Review Online, http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (June 11, 2005), Elizabeth Vail, review of Truesight.