2017 was a challenging year for me personally. In March, I made the impossible decision to take a step back as an active Agent when my son (9 months at the time) was diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency. We spent countless hours at pediatric specialists, allergists, and at home battling constant illnesses. My husband was deployed to Iraq, so I had to put my goals as an Literary Agent aside, while I took care of my little one. One of the only bright spots through these challenges was the extra time I had to read some amazing books I otherwise would have been unable to get to as quickly.
I’m thankful that my husband is now home safely from Iraq, and my son has greatly improved over the last 9 months. With the extra help at home, I’m grateful to be resuming my Agent responsibilities, taking care of my wonderful Authors who stuck by me during a rough year, and building a new client list for 2018.
Before I start this new year at a sprint, I wanted to spotlight a few of the books which helped me get through 2017. Each of them inspired me, spoke to me emotionally, and challenged me to overcome fear, and adversity with grace and poise.
Abdi Nazemian’s, THE AUTHENTICS, earns my Best Book of 2017 nomination.
Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.
But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.
With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?
This gem of a story is funny, real, inspiring, and powerful. Nazemian gives an incredible and authentic voice to Daria, challenging readers to question their identity, their character, and to consider love in unexpected ways. THE AUTHENTICS is a Young Adult Contemporary with Diversity, Family, Romance, and Character’s with a voice you won’t soon forget. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE!
Coming in a close second--
Jessica Park’s, 180 SECONDS
Adult Contemporary Romance
Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…
After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.
One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.
When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.
I actually read this book three different times since it’s release in April. Park does an incredible job building chemistry between characters. She’s a prime example of how to do Contemporary Romance the right way, and she never fails to break your heart and make you cry hysterically by the last page. And by cry, I mean ugly cry----
180 DAYS brings a message of love, loss, and soul searching which will is deeply resonating and impactful. It’s a story which makes you think about time, and how we spend it, and it’s a romance I love so much that I’ve bought it numerous times and gifted it to other people. If you are fan of contemporary romance, and even women’s fiction, please give this book a chance. It will make you ugly cry—but it’s worth it every tear, glass of wine, and the emotional hangover you will likely have.
Coming in third, although it is arguably the best book on the list for different reasons---
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
By: Chelsea Clinton, Illustrated by: Alexandra Boiger
Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what's right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren's refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.
She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.
With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn't give up on their dreams. Persistence is power.
This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.
This book is a showcase of brilliant women who persevered, challenged, and fought to make our world better. What I love most about this book, besides the AWESOME women, is how kid-friendly and accessible it is. Clinton is putting the seed of feminism into the tiniest of hands so it can grow and change the world in the future.
There is also another very special reason why I love this book, and it’s because it holds the same importance and message as a picture book project I recently sold for one of my amazing Authors. While I can’t quite announce the details yet, I am beyond excited to share the deal announcement soon. We need more women empowering books in the hands of our young readers. Let’s make it happen!
While I read close to 200 books this year, I wanted to select the three which still resonate with me daily. They are book which reminded me of why I became a Literary Agent, and they helped push me back into my role as an active Agent despite the rollercoaster, and frankly—sh*t show, of a year that 2017 has turned out to be.